Macron says right, left dis­cord like ‘civil war’

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron warned on Tues­day that di­vi­sions be­tween democ­racy and au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism in Eu­rope were be­com­ing like a “civil war.”

In a speech to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Strasbourg that set out his vi­sion of a re­formed EU, Macron called on the bloc to re­sist the siren song of pop­ulism.

The young French leader’s call to arms comes af­ter eu­roscep­tic pop­ulists won elec­tions in Hun­gary and Italy, and as Brus­sels con­fronts Poland’s right-wing gov­ern­ment over the rule of law.

“There seems to be a sort of Euro­pean civil war, where our dif­fer­ences and some­times our na­tional ego­tisms can seem more im­por­tant than pre­sent­ing a united face to the world,” the 40-year-old pres­i­dent said.

“There is a fas­ci­na­tion with the il­lib­eral and it’s grow­ing all the time.”

Macron’s elec­tion vic­tory last year against far-right can­di­date Marine Le Pen, and his ar­dent pro-Euro­peanism have made him the poster boy for those aim­ing for a re­vived post-Brexit EU to bat­tle the chal­lenges of pop­ulism.

Macron said he was con­cerned by the grow­ing sense of “doubt” in sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries in the wake of the shock 2016 Brexit vote, which he said was cre­at­ing di­vi­sions in the EU.

“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,” he told MEPs.

“I want to be­long to a gen­er­a­tion that will de­fend Euro­pean sovereignty be­cause we fought to ob­tain it. And I will not give in to any kind of fix­a­tion on au- thor­i­tar­i­an­ism,” he added.

His speech comes just days af­ter Hun­gary’s right-wing Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban won a crush­ing re-elec­tion vic­tory. Or­ban reg­u­larly clashes with Brus­sels but is a “hero” for US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer strate­gist Steve Ban­non.

Macron’s words were wel­comed by Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who told par­lia­ment af­ter­wards: “The true France is back.”

The French pres­i­dent also launched into a spir­ited de­fense of his de­ci­sion to launch air strikes along­side Britain and the US against al­leged regime chem­i­cal weapons sites in Syria.

In terms of his Euro­pean re­forms, Macron has strug­gled to win sup­port across Eu­rope for all his pro­pos­als.

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