Macron calls on the EU to strengthen its borders and establish closer defense ties

Macron calls on the EU to strengthen its borders and establish closer defense ties

French President Emmanuel Macron called on the EU to stand up for itself as a strategic and economic power in a crisis-stricken world by securing external borders and controlling secret migration, deepening defense co-operation and investing in high-tech industries.

“We should move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a world powerful, fully sovereign, free to make its own choices and master of its own destiny,” he said at the Elysee Palace in Paris as he outlined his plans for France’s six-month presidency. half of next year.

Macron called for reform of the 26-nation Schengen zone – within which people can move freely without border checks – and an improved emergency system to send security forces to guard external borders, such as those in Poland and Lithuania, which were recently threatened by massive incursions. migrants at the instigation of Belarus.

He said Schengen procedures should be managed as in the eurozone with regular ministerial meetings to ensure “a coherent policy to control our external borders”.

In a reduced replay of ambitious European initiatives announced at the Sorbonne University shortly after he was elected president in 2017, Macron called for deeper defense cooperation in the EU and a European economic “growth model” based on investing in high-tech industries and opening new jobs. places.

He also stressed the need to help stabilize the EU’s neighborhood, especially Africa and the Western Balkans, and announced a summit between the EU and the African Union in Brussels in February.

Macron is expected to be re-elected president next April amid France’s EU mandate. He is under pressure from political rivals on the right and the extreme right because of, as they call it, his loose approach to immigration to France.

He was also criticized by Valérie Pécresse of the right-wing Les Républicains party – which in recent opinion polls has emerged as the main threat to his re-election – for not postponing the EU presidency in a way that would avoid conflict with France’s domestic political calendar.

“These six months, French leaders will be pretty much on ice, because no one can guarantee they will still be there in May,” said Michel Barnier, a former EU Brexit negotiator who threw his weight behind Pécresse after losing to not in the party primary.

On economic policy, Macron stressed the need for the 27 EU member states to work together to promote the growth of strong European industries in technology sectors such as semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, hydrogen fuel and cloud computing.

“One country does not have enough volume,” he said. “We must act like Europeans” and build “true technological sovereignty in Europe”.

He confirmed that France will insist on the adoption of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is designed to ensure fair competition and prevent excessive dominance of large platforms such as Google, and the Digital Services Act (DSA), which aims to combat hatred. speech and would make digital companies responsible for the content they publish and the products they sell.

Macron, who meets with new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris on Friday, acknowledged the concerns of fiscally cautious northern Europeans over large deficits and debts among eurozone members, and agreed that there was a need for budget rules that promote economic convergence.

Alluding to the debt and deficit limits of the Stability and Growth Pact, suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Macron said the EU must take into account the need for large investments given the challenge of economic recovery. “We can’t act like nothing happened,” he said.

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