UPDATED: Macron outlines France’s EU presidency priorities

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French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday, just months before he is expected to stand for a second term and a day after Maltese Roberta Metsola, was elected European Parliament President. France currently holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency. 

Macron in his speech addressed the minimum wage, the climate crisis and the “unique” role of Europe as a guarantor of global stability amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, according to a top aide.

The European Union and Britain must find a “path of trust” in a post-Brexit era, French President Emmanuel Macron told EU lawmakers on Wednesday.

“Nothing will call into question the bond of friendship which connects us to our British friends”, Macron said in a speech, but he added that building up trust required a British government in “good faith” which lives up to what it agreed on in its accords with the EU.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in the context of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 19 January 2022. France will chair the European Council from 01 January 2022 to 30 June 2022. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

European Union countries must work together on a new stability and security deal that they could then discuss with Russia, French President Macron told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

Referring to “destabilisation efforts” in the continent, Macron, speaking as France starts its presidency of the EU, said Europe wants to find a political response to the conflict in Ukraine.

“The security of our continent is indivisible”, Macron said referring to Russia, adding that Europe must define its own security standards.

He added that Europe must “bring ourselves to a position to make sure they can be respected,” without elaborating.

Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Kyiv for talks, warned that Russia could launch a new attack at “very short notice”.

Separately, Macron said the EU must review its relationships with the Western Balkans and offer them “sincere” prospects of joining the bloc.

The EU must also propose a new alliance to African countries, he said, adding that EU and African countries would discuss it at a summit in February. 

The speech will also serve to burnish Macron’s international credentials as he faces re-election in April.

Since his election in 2017, the French president has positioned himself as a pro-European leader in contrast to the nationalist and populist leanings of some of his political opponents.

Macron will have lunch with the new speaker of parliament  Metsola, who was elected on Tuesday – before holding a press conference.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will not be present as she recently came into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. 

His 20-minute speech will be followed by a long question-and-answer session with MEPs.

Many French MEPs are expected to be among those replying to Macron’s speech, including Yannick Jadot, the Green party’s candidate for the April presidential election, right-wing François-Xavier Bellamy, radical left-wing MEP Manon Aubry and far-right MEP Jordan Bardella.

Aubry said she will ” speak to remind people of his record and to denounce the instrumentalisation of the PFUE (French presidency) for electoral purposes.”

Macron has yet to declare his candidacy for a second term and opponents in France have criticised him for using his office to campaign for his reelection without respecting official rules.

Photo – French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in the context of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 19 January 2022. France will chair the European Council from 01 January 2022 to 30 June 2022. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

Read more Via France 24/Euronews

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