News ID: 213390
Published: 0303 GMT April 17, 2018

France's Macron warns EU divisions like 'civil war'

France's Macron warns EU divisions like 'civil war'
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the European Parliament on April 17, 2018 in Strasbourg, France, on April 17, 2018.

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, AFP reported.

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 in the eastern French city.

"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 authoritarianism," he added.

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

 

Avoiding new wars

 

 

The European Union needs to accept new members from the Western Balkans to avoid the risk of a new war there, the head of the European Commission said, setting up a possible clash with France and other states which have resisted enlargement, Reuters reported.

The European Commission is pushing for the EU to expand into the region which still scarred by ethnic wars fought in the 1990s and dogged by a reputation for lawlessness.

“If we do not open up to countries in that highly complicated and tragic region, and if we do not open up a European perspective to them, we will see war returning to that area as we saw in the 1990s,” Juncker told the European Parliament.

“I do not want to see war retuning to the Balkans and so we need to open up to them,” he said.

   
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