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French President Pleads to Reform the European Union
May 23 2018, 01:15 | Alonzo Simpson
France's Macron warns EU divisions like 'civil war'
But he has struggled to win support for all his proposals, and his speech to MEPs is part of a charm offensive ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019, the first after Britain's departure.
The vast majority of the speech was, however, about the future without the UK, and the need for the 27 other European Union member states to be united in opposition to the emergence of the nationalist authoritarian traits of the past.
Macron has told EU lawmakers that he wants to anchor countries of the Western Balkans to the European project, but that now isn't the time to allow any to join. "I want to belong to a generation that will defend European sovereignty because we fought to obtain it".
The 40-year-old leader, who wants to play a key leadership role in the EU, outlined his vision for Europe's future in a speech at the Strasbourg-based European Parliament. This is a democracy that respects individual minority fundamental rights, which used to be called liberal democracy, and I use that term by choice. The deadly tendency which might lead our continent to the abyss, nationalism, giving up of freedom: "I reject the idea that European democracy is condemned to impotence", Macron said.
Macron said citizens "want a new project" for the European Union which addresses their concerns and fears in a world in which allies such as the United States are turning their backs on multilateral trade and climate change pacts.
He defeated euroskeptic National Front leader Marine Le Pen in France's presidential election past year by promising an answer to voter concerns over immigration, unemployment and security was more European Union, not less.
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After Macron's speech, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, congratulated the reforming spirit of the president and the defense of European unity.
Macron's address was nevertheless generally well received.
An ifop poll for Paris Match magazine Radio Sud and news channel Cnews said Macron collected 58 percent of negative rating as his first anniversary in power is approaching amid persistent social roar.
"We must hear the anger of Europe's peoples today", he said.
"Others affirm that we shouldn't rush things too fast: that would be playing the game of the populist".