12° Nicosia,
25 June, 2024
Home  /  News

Macron declares ''Europe is mortal,'' calls for unity

Calls for unity and renovation in defense and economic frameworks

The 27-country bloc needs to urgently rethink its defence and economic models to not fall behind its rivals, the French leader said.

The European model is at risk of being killed off by the US-China rivalry and the coming decade will be decisive for its survival, French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Thursday, calling on the European Union to become ever-more united and sovereign.

In a 108-minute speech delivered at the Sorbonne, where seven years ago the then-newly elected leader delivered a first address on his vision for Europe, Macron repeated numerous times that "the rules of the game have changed" on several fronts including geopolitics, the economy and trade, and culture.

"We must be lucid about the fact that our Europe today is mortal. It can die. It can die and that depends solely on our choices, but those choices have to be made now," Macron told attendees including members of his government and ambassadors from other member states.

"Gone are the days when Europe bought its energy and fertilisers from Russia, outsourced its production to China and delegated its security to the United States of America," he added. Positive steps have been taken over the past few years, he noted, but he warned nonetheless that "we are not at scale".

Chief among his concerns were the war in Ukraine and its implication for European defence and security as well as the ability for European industrial and technological actors to survive against what he described as the US and Chinese "over-subsidising" of their economies.

'A credible defence'
To weather the new geopolitical landscape, the French president said "a credible defence of the European continent" must be built.

"Europe must know how to defend what it holds dear with its allies whenever they are prepared to do so alongside us, and alone if necessary," he said.

"The United States of America has two priorities: firstly, the United States of America, which is legitimate, and secondly, China. And the European question is not a geopolitical priority for the years and decades to come, whatever the strength of our alliance."

Naming Russia as the bloc's main threat, Macron called for work on a "European defence initiative" to start within months, first as a "strategic concept" from which the "relevant capabilities" will then be put in place.

To do so, he stressed, the European defence industry must "produce faster, more and more European". He reiterated his stance, championed over the past few months among his EU peers, that this ramp-up in investments could be financed by raising more common EU debt. He also doubled down on his assertion that there should be a "European preference" when it comes to the purchase of military equipment.

The EU should also be more vocal on the diplomatic front, he said, strike more "reciprocal partnerships" with third countries "to show that it is never the vassal of the United States of America, and that it also knows how to speak to all regions of the world: to emerging countries, to Africa, to Latin America."

A prosperity pact
For European industrial actors to survive "disloyal" competition from US and Chinese rivals that have benefited from vast subsidy programmes, Macron preached for a "simplification" of rules, or "deregulation".

"Our current economic model is no longer sustainable," he said.

For the French leader, the EU's objectives to become carbon-neutral, retain a socio-economic model based on solidarity and redistribution, and increase sovereignty in key sectors and supply chains are the right ones but "we're not there because we regulate too much, we invest too little, we are too open and don't defend our interests enough."

The answer for him is a "prosperity pact" that would include "waves of rule simplification" over the next mandate to allow for companies to quickly scale up at the European level and an industrial policy to boost so-called green sectors. Europe, he added, should also aim to become a world leader in five key sectors including including AI, space, biotechnologies, renewables and nuclear.

The EU will need a "major collective investment plan" to achieve these goals, he said.

He came out in favour of adding a growth or climate objective to the European Central Bank's mandate as well as raising income from EU-level taxes. He also urged work on a Capital Markets Union to be accelerated and finalised within 12 months to entice EU banks to invest European savings in homegrown products rather than foreign, usually American, ones.

'European ideas have won the battle'
The last part of his speech was dedicated to the defence of European values.

"We must never forget that we (Europeans) are not like the others," Macron said, citing Europeans' attachment to freedom, democracy, rule of law and equality. But these values are increasingly under threat from disinformation and propaganda.

Among his ideas to boost intra-European ties were the creation of European degrees (a proposal the European Commission recently unveiled), and of alliances of European museums and libraries, while he championed a "digital majority" set at 15 to protect young people from the possible pitfalls of life online. He also backed a strengthening of the bloc's rule of law mechanism that aims to sanction member states that undermine EU values.

Macron's team had earlier this week stressed that the address was "an institutional moment for a head of state" and would therefore be "very distinct from an electoral campaign exercise" despite being delivered just six weeks before hundreds of millions of Europeans across the 27 member states start heading to the polls to elect their 720 representatives to the European Parliament.

The president's centrist party, Renaissance, and its partners, Modem and Horizons, are together projected to come a distant second with just 18% of the vote, according to a poll by Ipsos for Euronews.

The far-right Rassemblement National (RN), meanwhile, is seen securing a comfortable victory with an estimated 31% of the vote. Its leader, the charismatic 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, is to present the party's European election programme later on Thursday afternoon.

Macron did not cite his national rival but nevertheless took a swipe at nationalist forces, claiming that "European ideas have won the battle" with some populist parties, such as the RN, now no longer campaigning for their countries to leave the EU or euro.

"The best way to know the future is to make promises that you keep. So what I'm proposing to you is that, with a clear head, we make these few major promises for Europe over the next decade and fight to keep them," he said.

[Source: Euronews]

Cyprus  |  EU  |  defence

News: Latest Articles