MACRON’S EUROPE: French leader to anger rivals with federalist demands | World | News


In a New Year’s address, Mr Macron declared: “We need to rediscover a European ambition, to rediscover a more sovereign, more united, more democratic, Europe because it is good for our people.”

The French president called on Europeans to participate in a public consultation to discuss what they want from the EU.

Mr Macron has championed the consultation as a way to help leaders build a “great project” – including the eurozone integration he has pushed for.

He said: “At a European level, 2018 will be decisive.

“I need for us, together, not to give way on anything, neither to nationalists nor to the skeptics.”

He vowed: “I will continue to work with all of our European partners, especially with Germany.”

Mr Macron’s plans for eurozone reform were presented before the European Commission in early December.

The sprawling revamp includes a eurozone budget, finance minister and parliament. They are designed to deepen members’ ties to the eurozone, but also to make it more democratic and prevent future financial crises.

For its part, the European Commission has set out proposals that chime with Mr Macron’s ideas, including the creation of a European Monetary Fund that would help stem economic crises.

However, it will take some convincing to bring Mr Macron’s most significant European partner, Angela Merkel, on board.

Leading German figures are concerned a eurozone finance minister would wield too much power over member states, infringing on sovereignty.

While Mrs Merkel also has greater domestic concerns as talks continue to form a German government after September’s election.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has also clashed with Mr Macron over the reforms, saying they would not solve the problems of the EU.

Speaking at a conference in Amsterdam, he said: “The EU needs to solve problems that we – as individual member states – cannot solve alone.

“A federal Europe is not the answer to those problems, and neither is a politics based on symbolism.

“Integration for integration’s sake will only harm public support for the European Union. So before we develop new policy, before we set up new agencies, before we think up new rules and regulations, we need to ask ourselves: what problem does this truly solve?”

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