French President of the Republic speaking at Epinal meeting
18 April 2018

Europe: building a new sovereignty

During a speech delivered to the European Parliament on 17 April 2018, the President of the Republic presented his vision of European refoundation; he went on to launch the Citizen Consultations on Europe in Epinal on the evening of the same day and will be meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 19 April.
It was the first time that the President had addressed the European Parliament. His speech was very much in keeping with the seminal speeches he delivered in Athens (7 September 2017) and at the Sorbonne (26 September 2017), in a context whose uncertainties and seriousness Emmanuel Macron underscored (including Brexit, migration, the growing power of authoritarian regimes, and the Syrian crisis).

The President appealed to Europeans’ sense of responsibility: “I don’t want to be part of a generation of sleepwalkers”, and made a heartfelt plea in favour of democracy. In the face of the world’s ongoing troubles, “the response is not authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy”. It is through democracy that we shall restore “the Europe of Peoples”, when fewer than one in two Europeans bothered to go and vote at the last European elections.

And therein lies the whole point of the citizen consultations initiated by France, in which the EU Member States are involved and which the President launched in Epinal.

It is also necessary to build a new, stronger European sovereignty, which involves meeting a range of challenges in the short term:
  • migration: besides revision of the Dublin Regulation, France will advocate creation of a European programme providing direct financial support to local authorities that take in and integrate refugees;
  • digital technology, a challenge in the face of which France supports introduction of a tax designed to “correct the most blatant excesses” – revenue from which would provision the European budget – and the EU should continue to develop a distinctive and exemplary approach respectful of individual freedoms and personal data;
  • the Economic and Monetary Union, which should be reinforced through definition of a roadmap designed to advance the banking union and convergence within the Eurozone thanks to a common budget;
  • culture, which should be promoted via Europe’s universities, as well as protection of authors' rights.