France’s President Seeking Joint Defense ForceOctober 5, 2017 in Uncategorized
The French president this month called for a joint European Union (EU) defense force as part of his vision for the future of the bloc.
Setting out a series of reforms for the EU, French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed greater cooperation on security and the fight against terrorism. In a major speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris, President Macron stated that he wanted the EU to boost its common defense systems and have “autonomous capacity for action” through a joint military force. He further called for a shared defense budget and common police, and stated that a European training academy should also be created.
In his other key proposals, President Macron stated that the EU should:
- Strengthen borders and protect the “sovereignty” of member states against uncontrolled migrant flows – speeding up asylum applications and helping countries where immigrants come from to stabilise their economies;
- Set up a single, EU-wide tax on financial transactions;
- Forge a common policy on sustainable development by harmonising subsidies for green technology and introducing a bloc-wide carbon tax;
- Reform the Common Agricultural Policy, by making it more flexible and less bureaucratic;
- Set up a European agency to encourage the emergence of “champions” in digital technology.
President Macron disclosed that “Europe as we know it is too weak, too slow and too inefficient,” noting however that “…only Europe can give us the means to act on the world stage as we tackle the great challenges of the day.”
While President Macron came to power in May promising to strengthen the eurozone and deepen EU integration ahead of Brexit, his plans face new hurdles in the wake of Germany’s election earlier this month, which resulted in a rise of the eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. While Angela Merkel was re-elected for a fourth term as chancellor, amidst falling support, the nationalist AfD party won its first seats in the German parliament.
President Macron is now pressing other EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, to work with him. However, Germany’s election results effectively mean that the Chancellor Merkel will now try to form a government that is likely to include the Free Democratic Party (FDP), whose leader is an outspoken critic of President Macron’s European agenda.