French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday proposed establishing an EU fund to help those communities taking in refugees and called for “European sovereignty” in the face of rising authoritarianism.
In his first address to EU lawmakers, the europhile French leader said a robust democracy is the “best chance” for the European Union to fight against rising nationalism on the continent.
He called for a renewed sense of “European sovereignty” in the face of increasing authoritarianism in some EU countries, warning that there was a “sort of European civil war” brewing and “a fascination with the illiberal” that is “growing all the time”.
“Faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism but the authority of democracy,” Macron said, urging EU countries to defend the values of liberty, equality and diversity that underpin the European model – one he described as “unique in the world”.
“I don’t want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers, I don’t want to belong to a generation that’s forgotten its own past,” the 40-year-old president added. Macron’s speech was part of a charm offensive ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019, the first after Britain’s exit from the 28-member bloc.
He told EU lawmakers it is important “to have a democratic, critical debate on what Europe is about” ahead of the European elections, adding that EU citizens “want a new project” for Europe that addresses their concerns and fears.