Macron to push for reform of Schengen area during EU during presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference on France assuming EU presidency,
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference on France assuming EU presidency, in Paris, on December 9, 2021. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
President Emmanuel Macron vowed Thursday France would work towards a strong and "sovereign" European Union and push for reform of the Schengen area when it takes over the bloc's rotating presidency in January.

The centrist Macron may aim to fill the leadership gap left at European level by the departure of German chancellor Angela Merkel, analysts say.

But Macron, who was elected in 2017 demanding reform in both France and Europe, will also face a battle to be re-elected in April.

France’s aim is “to move towards a Europe that is powerful in the world, fully sovereign, free in its choices and in charge of its own destiny”, Macron told a news conference.

He also called for new mechanisms to protect the EU’s borders, with thousands of migrants gathering on the border between Belarus and Poland in recent months.

Europe “needs to ensure the protection of its borders”, he told a news conference, adding that France would push for reform of the Schengen area of passport-free travel between 26 countries in Europe.

‘Rethink’

Macron also said the EU should reconsider its strict budget deficit rules as governments spend heavily to save their economies from the impact of Covid restrictions.

France will push for a “rethink” of rules that include a demand for deficits to remain below three percent of gross domestic product (GDP), he said.

Turning to environmental issues, he said that France would propose a new EU mechanism to prevent imports of agricultural products from deforested areas when Paris takes over the European Union’s rotating presidency next year.

“We will also advance negotiations on the creation of a European instrument to fight against imported deforestation which will aim to ban imports to the European Union of soya, beef, palm oil, cocoa and coffee when they have contributed to deforestation,” Macron said.

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He said France would host an extraordinary EU summit on March 10 and March 11 in Paris, just a month before the presidential election.

The French presidency of the EU comes after Macron was left furious with the United States, Britain and Australia in September after they signed a new security deal called AUKUS that led Australia to abandon its purchase of French submarines.

Macron has yet to formally declare he will stand in the elections although he is widely expected to do so. Recent polls have seen a sudden surge for the challenger of the right-wing The Republicans Valerie Pecresse after she was formally named their candidate.


Member comments

  1. He really has let the power go to his head. I voted for him because, like many, thought he would be a breath of fresh air, but unfortunately all he has been is a hurricane, filling the Government with young people that have no idea what they are doing.

    1. The problem with the Presidential system is always too much power vested in one person leads to bravado rather than diplomacy , wild reactive swings in policy and far too little engagement with folk at large.

  2. Presumably a ‘fully sovereign Europe’ means a less than sovereign France. Not sure how that will sell in April.

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