French President Emmanuel Macron called for a change in European integration on Tuesday at Sorbonne University in Paris.
While speaking to students at the university, Macron called on other European nations, particularly Germany, to link their economies, armies, and governments.
“The Europe that we know is too weak, too slow, too inefficient,” he said during the speech. “But Europe alone can give us the ability to act in the world faced with big contemporary challenges.”
Macron proposed a European “rapid reaction force” which would work with national armies as well as a European finance minister, budget, and parliament.
Macron is seeking an endorsement of his agenda by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Unfortunately for Macron, his plan for further globalization may have to wait as the result of Sunday’s German election saw eurosceptic parties make gains in the country.
Merkel will now have to form a German government that will likely include the Free Democratic Party (FDP), whose leader, Christian Lindner, is heavily critical of Macron’s agenda.
Lindner has also called the plan of a eurozone budget a “red line,” however, Macron does not see it that way.
“I don’t have red lines, I only have horizons,” he said during the speech on Tuesday, apparently responding directly to Lindner.
It will be unlikely that Lindner is the only one to oppose the French president’s plans.
The nationalist governments of Poland and Hungary will likely be reluctant to send more power to Brussels and low-tax countries such as Ireland could be opposed to Macron’s plan of introducing harmonized corporation tax.
In a possible attempt to address and appease the growing nationalist feeling in Europe, Macron claimed that the United Kingdom could still be welcomed into his new Europe if the country decided it was the right course of action.
“In a few years, if they want, the United Kingdom could find its place… In this reformed and simplified EU that I’m proposing, I can’t imagine that the United Kingdom could not find its place,” he claimed.
Macron also detailed other plans during the speech. He alongside a single budget for Europe, he wants to implement a single border force, a European innovation agency and an EU-wide agency that will handle requests for asylum.
The French President’s proposals will likely be a top priority for discussion at a two-day summit from Thursday, which will include all 28 EU members.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker seemingly approved of the speech, claiming that the bloc needs to find the “courage” to move ahead.
However, Macron’s pitch for the leadership role of the continent has drawn criticism.
According to someone close with Angela Merkel, who made comments to AFP on the condition of anonymity, Macron is acting like a Sun King” with a “God-given right to rule.”
It remains to be seen whether other countries in the bloc will agree with the French proposal, however, it is highly likely that Jean-Claude Juncker and other unelected EU officials will welcome the plan to further globalize the continent.
Featured Image Via Flickr/Jeso Carneiro