STRASBOURG — Imploring the European Parliament to act on his ambitious proposals for greater EU integration, French President Emmanuel Macron declared Tuesday: “I do not want to be part of a generation of sleepwalkers.”
In a speech to the Parliaments plenary in Strasbourg, Macron repeated his major policy proposals, such as reforming the EUs monetary union, some of which have run into resistance from Germany, among other countries.
Macron said France was willing to increase its contribution to the EU budget and also called for greater cooperation on security and defense, a new EU-wide initiative to integrate refugees and immigrants, and a new tax on giant technology companies that he said are not yet paying their fair share.
His speech was an impassioned defense of European democracy and a rejection of nationalism and populism.
“There is a fascination with the illiberal and that is growing all the time,” Macron said, warning against complacency. “In this world and in these difficult times,” he added, “European democracy is our best chance.”
Macron also had tough words for authoritarian regimes, and a simple message: European democracy is better.
“I will not give in to any fascination for authoritarian sovereignties,” he said. “In front of authoritarianism which surrounds us everywhere, the answer is not the authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was the first to take the floor to react to Macrons speech, and he was full of praise. “Yes! Yes! We agree,” Juncker said. “I fully agree with what the president has just said.”