“Our Europe could die”: Macron calls for collective EU reform

The biggest threat to Europe's security is the war in Ukraine: “The basic precondition for our security is that Russia does not win this war of aggression,” Macron said. He proposed the creation of a European military academy. “Europe can defend what it cares about – when its allies are ready, but stand alone when necessary,” he said.

In addition, Europe should strengthen the area of ​​cyber security and promote the internal security sector: “If we do not take responsibility for creating our own European security sector, how can we build our sovereignty, our autonomy?”

“Reliable” through nuclear power

France will play its part in this, Macron said. Macron said France's nuclear deterrent at its disposal was “an essential element of the security of the European continent”. “Thanks to this reliable security, we can create the security guarantees that our partners across Europe expect,” he stressed. The common security framework could “build relations with Russia's neighbors” in the future.

APA/AFP/Christophe Petit Tesson

The address to Europe aims to mobilize Macron's voters for the EU election campaign

On the security level, it is also important to strengthen ties with Great Britain, which has left the EU. Macron described Brexit as one of the “unprecedented crises” Europe has faced in recent years. He spoke of an “explosion” whose negative consequences no one campaigned for an exit – not from the EU or the euro.

Called for more independence from America

Macron said Europe must open a dialogue with third countries and show it is not a “slave” to the United States. Economically, the old continent is in danger of falling behind in the international context and needs to rethink its development model. Aides to the president described the speech as France's contribution to the EU's strategic agenda for the next five years. The agenda will be decided after the European elections in June.

With his appearance, Macron follows a major speech in 2017 in the same place: at that time, he outlined a vision of “European sovereignty” and “strategic autonomy” – which have now become household words in Brussels. At the time, Macron proposed a common budget specifically for euro countries. The EU defense budget should be in place for the next decade.

Considerations for Ground Forces in Ukraine

Macron has recently attracted attention by saying that he cannot rule out the deployment of Western ground forces in Ukraine. Such considerations were rejected by German Chancellor Olaf Scholes. Chancellor Karl Neuhammer (ÖVP) also said Macron's initiative was “not a common position” for the EU.

Macron lost his parliamentary majority in 2022. His personal popularity ratings in France have also plummeted. His centrist Renaissance Party is trailing the right-wing populist Rassemblement National (RN) in polls ahead of European elections in June.

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