Macron criticised for ‘snubbing’ France in favour of EU
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French President Emmanuel Macron is addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, to mark the start of France’s six-month presidency of the Council of the EU. With the French presidential election looming in April this is Mr Macron’s moment to make himself shine as a beacon of European hope. The French leader is expected to speak on further integration, more European autonomy on everything from defence to semiconductors. There will certainly be no time for questions on other political issues, such as Covid tensions, as Mr Macron strives for EU sovereignty. One French official said Politico: “Tomorrow is a European moment and it’s important that it be perceived as such.”
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EMMANUEL MACRON is vying to use today’s speech at European Parliament to present the agenda (Image: EU PARLIAMENT)
Mr Macron begins
Mr Macron begins talking about Europe, a civilization he believes has matured over centuries.
He says: “For 70 years, we’ve been trying to build, putting an end to the concept of wars. On our continent and in this house, the idea of the will of the people this Europe which during the pandemic held firm in terms of developing a vaccine and economic recovery.”
He says he will share some ideas with us and talk about some of the deep convictions which lie behind our common values and common actions.
He talks of a Europe based on three main promises, “one of promise of democracy, which is born here in Europe and was reborn on our continent and given new lives in the last 70 years, a promise of progress shared by all and a promise for peace.”
Macron’s speech commences
President Emmanuel Macron’s speech is beginning. We will bring you the latest lines.
Macron ‘should support democratic Europe by committing to move Article 7 forward’
Philippe Dam, Human Rights Watch’s Advocacy Director for Europe and Central Asia, has said today Macron “should support democratic Europe by committing to move Article 7 forward on Hungary and Poland. And he should set in full motion a mechanism tying EU funding to respect to rule of law.
Benedicte Jeannerod, Paris director at Human Rights Watch said: “France’s EU presidency comes at a critical juncture as several EU governments are deliberately rejecting the democratic values on which the EU was founded.
“The French presidency of the EU will be closely watched to ensure that France acts effectively for a rights-respecting Europe firmly rooted in respect for rule of law.”
What Emmanuel Macron won’t be saying
POLITICO have created an alternative preview of the French president’s speech and listed things he will not be saying.
– He probably won’t be speaking English. While everyone at the EU speaks English and Brexit hasn’t changed that, “Macron’s government isn’t giving up without a fight, even though the president himself is a fluent English speaker.” During its Council presidency, Paris is insisting all key meetings take place in French.
– He won’t be welcoming new members. EU enlargement is unpopular in France (only 30 percent of the French are in favor, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey).
– He won’t be friendly with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán who has developed friendly ties to Macron rivals such as far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Good morning from London. I’m Rachel Hagan, I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on Emmanuel Macron for the next few hours. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.