At Versailles, Macron says he will lift France’s state of emergency
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron vowed on Monday to lift a state of emergency that has been in place since 2015, but also to harden permanent security measures to fight extremism and other threats.
Laying out his political, security and diplomatic priorities at an extraordinary joint session of parliament at the chateau of Versailles, Macron said his government “will work to prevent any new attack, and we will work to fight (the assailants) without pity, without regrets, without weakness”.
At the same time, he insisted on the need to “guarantee full respect for individual liberties” amid concerns that new measures would allow police too many powers.
Macron vowed to maintain the country’s military interventions against extremists abroad. He also insisted on the importance of maintaining “the path of negotiation, of dialogue” for long-term solutions.
In his bid to strengthen the European Union after Brexit, he announced Europe-wide public conferences later this year in an effort to reinvigorate the bloc.
He said he understood why many Europeans see the EU as bureaucratic, distant and uncaring.
“I firmly believe in Europe, but I don’t find this skepticism unjustified,” he said.
He added that European countries should work more closely to help political refugees while fighting migrant-smuggling and strengthening borders against illegal migration.
Macron has pledged to fulfill his campaign promise to bring about deep changes in France, notably through labor reform and a series of measures to put more transparency and ethics into politics.
In the 90-minute speech, Macron also pledged to reduce the number of seats in parliament which now stand at 925 by one third, so that “work will become more fluid”.
He promised to gather both houses of parliament in Versailles every year, to be accountable.
“The reforms and deep changes I have promised will be implemented,” he said.
After his new centrist party dominated parliamentary elections and split the opposition, political rivals are comparing Macron to Napoleon, or the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter.
Critics have complained about the cost of the Versailles event, and accused Macron of convening it for reasons of self-interest instead of national need. The last such joint parliament session was in the wake of November 2015 extremist attacks, the deadliest violence to hit France in half a century.
Macron also appeared to be upstaging his prime minister, who is scheduled to give his first big parliament speech on Tuesday, where he will face his first confidence vote.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a special congress at the Versailles Palace, near Paris, on Monday.