Macron calls for new EU ‘strategic culture’

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Series Details 26.09.17
Publication Date 26/09/2017
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French President Emmanuel Macron gave a major speech on his vision for a reformed and re-energised European Union Initiative pour l’Europe: Une Europe souveraine, unie, démocratique (Initiative for Europe: A sovereign, united, democratic Europe) at the Sorbonne University, Paris on the 26 September 2017.

President Macron said: Faced with the great challenges of our times, such as defence and security, great migrations, development, climate change, the digital revolution and regulation of a globalised economy, have European countries found means to defend their interests and values, and to guarantee and adapt their democratic and social model that is unique worldwide? Can they address each of these challenges alone?

We cannot afford to keep the same policies, the same habits, the same procedures and the same budget. No more can we choose to turn inwards within national borders.

The only way to ensure our future, is the rebuilding of a sovereign, united and democratic Europe'

The key sections of the speech comprised:

A Sovereign Europe
+ A Europe that guarantees every aspect of security
+ A Europe that addresses the migration challenge
+ A Europe looking to Africa and the Mediterranean
+ A Europe exemplary in sustainable development
+ A Europe of innovation and regulation adapted to the digital world
+ A Europe standing as an economic and monetary power

A United Europe
+ Concrete solidarity through social and tax convergence
+ The cement of culture and knowledge

A Democratic Europe
+ The need for debate: democratic conventions
+ Strengthening the European Parliament: transnational lists

What Europe for 2024
+ The European Union, our common framework
+ Differentiation through ambition
+ The Franco-German engine
+ Group for overhauling Europe

Emmanuel Macron was elected as President of France in May 2017. In his election campaign, amongst many issues, Mr Macron had expressed strongly pro-European Union convictions in contrast to his final Presidential challenger Marine le Pen of the Front National.

Immediately on becoming President Mr Macron had visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the 15 May 2017 symbolically and explicitly emphasising the necessity for the two countries to work together for the good of Europe.

The German Chancellor wanted to work 'closely, in a spirit of friendship and trust' with France’s new President. Angela Merkel announced that a Franco-German Council of Ministers would be held in July 2017. She also agreed with Emmanuel Macron that they should produce a joint roadmap for EU projects.

At the 19th Franco-German Ministerial Council held in Paris on the 13 July 2017 Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Germany and France intended to strengthen the European Union with their common efforts. They were aware that they must take more charge of Europe’s destiny 'and ensure our people of protection and security, as well as progress and development'.

President Emmanuel Macron delivered a 'state of the nation' speech to members of the National Assembly and Senate of France at Versailles on the 3 July 2017. In the speech he outlined his ambitions for France during his Presidency, in which he sought a 'profound transformation' of France'.

He also turned to the challenges facing the European Union. He suggested that national governments organise conventions in the form of national debates to discuss the EU’s future priorities and suggest ways to 'relaunch' the union.

These democractic conventions (or national public debates) should begin towards the end of 2017. Governments would then report back to the EU from their respective national conventions and member states would then work their conclusions into a five-year EU reform plan.

In deference to the German federal election held on the 24 September 2017 the French President had held off explictly launching his grand EU reform vision until after the election. Many commentators had discussed the prospects and challenges of an agreed Franco-German EU reform programme. The relatively poor results for Angela Merkel in the German election were noted by commentators as possibly damaging the prospects for a dynamic Franco-German initiative.

President's Macron's speech followed that of other European leaders who had recently given their thoughts on the European Union going forwards post-Brexit

+ Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission State of the Union 2017 (13 September 2017)
+ Theresa May, United Kingdom Prime Minister Shared history, Shared challenges, Shared future (Florence, 22 September 2017)

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Politico, 27-28.09.17: How Macron’s EU vision stacks up to reality
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The Guardian, 27.09.17: Macron lays out vision for 'profound' changes in post-Brexit EU
BBC News, 26.09.17: France's Macron seeks joint defence force under EU reforms
EurActiv, 27.09.17: Macron sinks teeth into EU taboos in forward-looking speech
France: Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Text of speech by President Emmanuel Macron, Paris, 26 September 2017 (in French): Initiative pour l’Europe : Une Europe souveraine, unie, démocratique
France: Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Press Release, 26.09.17: Initiative for Europe: A sovereign, united, democratic Europe
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