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POLITICS

Macron: It will take decades for Ukraine to join EU

France's President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday it would take "decades" for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU - and called instead for a new European body to allow co-operation on issues like security and movement of people.

Macron: It will take decades for Ukraine to join EU
France's President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during the Conference on the Future of Europe. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / various sources / AFP

“Even if we gave them candidate status tomorrow,” he said of Ukraine, “we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades.”

But, noting the urgency of giving Ukraine and other EU hopefuls like Moldova and Georgia a place in the heart of Europe, he called for the creation of a “European political community”.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, in part to thwart Kyiv’s tilt towards integration with the EU and NATO, and Georgia and Moldova are also partly occupied by Moscow’s troops.

Just ahead of Macron’s speech, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted that the EU executive would give its “opinion” on Ukraine’s membership bid in June.   

But Macron, in a speech endorsing calls for a treaty change to further  strengthen the EU’s federal integration, said the bloc, “given its level of integration and ambition” could not be Europe’s only organising body.

“It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community,” he said.

“This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.”

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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