Macron’s French EU Presidency Speech: New Security Order, Talks with Russia and Strong EU Borders

Written by | Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday (19 January) got a chance to define his Europe during his five-hour tour-de-force at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg ahead of the French presidential elections in April. Detailing France’s priorities for the six-month rotating presidency of the bloc, he pledged to make the European Union more powerful as his country holds the bloc’s presidency for six months — yet he has been accused by rivals and critics of using the position as a springboard toward a reelection bid.
As the French far-right put immigration and security at the heart of the presidential campaign, Macron vowed to reinforce the Union’s external borders and dismantle smugglers networks. Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations — these are the French EU presidency’s migration priorities, in a right-wing home-affairs agenda. The French leader also said he wants to add changes into the charter of fundamental rights of the EU to make it “more explicit about environment protection and the recognition of the right to abortion” in an effort to “breathe new life” in Europe’s democratic values. It’s time for the EU to “take action” to meet its environmental ambitions, Macron said, specifically referring to the bloc’s commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2050. Responding to some French voters’ concerns, he also called on the EU to install a “decent” minimum salary across the bloc and work on reducing inequalities and fighting discrimination.
Then Macron fell out of line when he called on the EU to quickly draw up a new security plan containing proposals to help ease tensions with Russia and specifically proposed that European states start “their own dialogue” with Moscow. By that, Macron blindsided EU diplomats because Brussels remains committed to follow US-led on negotiations with Russia, EU officials reportedly said. ”We were given zero notice of this crazy idea,” one source said. President Macron “championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda”, writes Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP with the liberal Renew Europe group, adding that “Europe needs boldness and, indeed, ambition.” Veld, however, points to one major obstacle: “a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade. The so-called ‘intergovernmental’ method of 27 national governments dealing behind closed doors has proven unable to tackle even relatively surmountable challenges. This is a bad omen for the ambitions expressed now.”

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