Germany hits brakes on Macron's European dreams

19 April 2018, 02:53 | Andres Norman

Macron likens political divisions in Europe to civil war

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The speech was heartily welcomed by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, but received a lukewarm response from others, including Manfred Weber, the German MEP who leads the European People's party, within which Orbán's MEPs sit.

Echoing Tony Blair's 2005 appearance at the European parliament, during which he tackled Nigel Farage head-on to rapturous applause, Macron picked out the Front National for comment. Now, French President Emmanuel Macron has laid out his vision for the future of Europe in a major speech.

He said: "I will only support an enlargement when there is first a deepening and a reform of our Europe".

In his speech he condemned what he called "a fascination with the illiberal" in Europe.

Merkel's party also dismissed Macron's plan for a separate investment budget for the 19-member single currency area, saying it was not "a top priority" when the bloc is still grappling with how to plug the hole that Britain's departure will leave in the wider European Union budget. "We are 28" member nations.

Juncker said Macron's arrival in power in France had given new hope to the world's biggest trading bloc.

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The poll comes as Macron faces three months of rolling strikes on the railways over his plans to shake up heavily-indebted operator SNCF, scrapping early retirement and other benefits for new hires.

French President Emmanuel Macron could be the European Union's "last chance", former UKIP leader Nigel Farage said after meeting him on Tuesday.

Calling for fellow European Union leaders to follow his example in holding a public dialogue on Europe's future, Macron noted that he was launching the process later that day in eastern France.

Macron called for an energetic campaign for the European Parliament election in May 2019 as the EU also deals with the challenges of Britain's departure.

All EU countries, except Britain and Hungary, have agreed to seek the opinions of their citizens on the EU's future through debates and online consultations.

The coalition German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally formed has stuck to Germany's reluctance to share financial burdens, defying Mr. Macron's core ambition for a common eurozone budget to boost investment and fight recessions.



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