Emmanuel Macron, speaking alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel, said that Europe needs to be stronger to prevent the world “slipping into chaos”. The French President was visiting Berlin to commemorate the victims of war and dictatorships, demonstrating a joint front between France and Germany.
The traditionally strong relationship between the two countries has enhanced in response to European unity— including Brexit and Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his antagonism towards the EU. In his speech at the Bundestag, Macron made an appeal to Angela Merkel to support a series of reforms to strengthen Europe.
He said, “Europe and, within it, the Franco-German couple have the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace. That’s why Europe must be stronger and win more sovereignty.”
In 18 years, Emmanuel Macron is the first French president to address the Bundestag. He called for greater European unity, so that the bloc would be able to meet future challenges in an uncertain world.
He said that the continent must not “become a plaything of great powers, must assume greater responsibility for its security and its defence, and must not accept a subordinate role in world politics.”
The German chancellor said that she agreed with Macron’s assessment that Europe stood “at a crossroads,” before the two headed into a meeting to discuss a range of policy challenges.
The pair appears to have a shared sense of history, and a warm personal relationship. A sheer example of this was seen in joint appearances at the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, last week. On the other hand, they do remain far apart on certain important aspects— from reforming the eurozone to restrict the influence of internet companies through a digital tax.
During his visit, Macron also said that Europe must “take more responsibility for its defence and security.” He warned that the continent could not influence global politics if it is “content to play a secondary role on the international scene.”
His comments were seen as a swipe at the US president Donald Trump, who last week reacted furiously to Mr Macron’s suggestions that in order to be less reliant on America, Europe should develop its own army. Even Angela Merkel offered hypothetical long-term support for the idea of such an army.
France’s minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau had also stated, “It is not a question of being against the United States, but of taking our destiny into our own hands to no longer count on others.”