On Wednesday, during his first speech to the European Parliament, French President Emmanuel Macron said “a Europe that emerges strengthened and unified, is stronger than a Europe broken down, polarized and weakened.”
Mr. Macron is the first president to address the legislature in Strasbourg and there is little doubt that he wants to use the occasion to lay the foundation of his ideas on a unified European Union, one with greater powers over its own foreign and defense policies.
“It’s necessary that the European Parliament be able to pick up the threads of the continent, wherever they appear,” Mr. Macron said, adding: “To be able to act.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, second from left, is greeted by Michel Barnier, European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, third from left, President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and newly elected European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after delivering his speech during the first plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on Feb. 6, 2018. (ANTHONY DELUCI/AFP/Getty Images)
The summit is taking place on Feb. 9. In order to reconcile his vision with the Brexit negotiations, Brussels has acknowledged that the EU is willing to offer the UK more financial concessions, but that it is not in the negotiating process. But Mr. Macron appears to be setting the stage for a broader discussion on the issue of the legitimacy of national parliaments, including the House of Commons, in case Britain decides not to change its mind and remain in the EU.
“I’m ready to do it,” he said of the practical provision that the European Council give assurances on a United Kingdom in the E.U.
“Le Pen, le Corbyn, le Trump, anybody who disagrees with us, they’re not even worthy of being on the ballot paper,” Mr. Macron said in relation to France’s National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party.
“Instead, we should go and debate. I know what I have to propose. I am ready. And it has to be discussed.”
With an agenda that includes strengthening transatlantic relations, strengthening trans-Atlantic ties in an increasingly globalized world, and moving toward a more digitally and environmentally aware Europe, his comments demonstrate Mr. Macron’s view that more Europe is the only way for the EU to remain relevant.
Both the leaders of the U.K. and France want to know the president’s advice for London as it enters into the negotiating phase of Brexit, after Brexit Minister David Davis told the European Parliament that “the U.K. government is on the same page as the European Union” with regard to its concerns.
“Like you, we want to see Britain part of a strong, united, and prosperous European Union,” Mr. Macron said, adding: “It’s possible. It should be possible.”