French President Emmanuel Macron speaks before the European Parliament on April 17, 2018 in the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Photo: Frederick Florin | AFP
STRASBOURG, France — French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for "European sovereignty" in the face of increasing European "authoritarianism" and other external threats to the union while encouraging policies to integrate refugees.
"I propose creating a European programme that directly financially supports local communities that welcome and integrate refugees," Macron told European Parliament members at first post-Easter plenary sitting on Tuesday
Macron warned of a "sort of European civil war", adding that "there is a fascination with the illiberal and it's growing all the time."
"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 said.
Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin later this week, amid concerns of Franco-German dominated European Union.
Macron is pushing for sweeping EU reforms amid the United Kingdom’s departure, skepticism about recent election victories in Italy and Germany.
Macron's remarks were welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said: "The true France is back."
Juncker also warned of the European Union becoming a "Franco-German club."
Emigration from conflict-ridden Iraq, Syria, northern Africa, and Afghanistan peaked with European arrivals in 2016. The UN issued a report on April 11, noting the overall decrease in 2017. It also called for better asylum procedures.
“Access to territory and to swift, fair and efficient asylum procedures for people seeking international protection is vital. Managing borders and offering protection to refugees in line with States’ international obligations are not mutually exclusive nor incompatible”, said Pascale Moreau, the Director of UNHCR’s Europe Bureau.
Europe's involvement in the protracted Syrian conflict, amid recent developments between the United States and Russia, are also being discussed.
The EU is not likely to allow Turkey to join, according to leaked reports.
This is a developing story...