Macron wants closer EU integration after Strasbourg

Image copyright Guillaume Juillet Image caption The French president faced off against some EU populists after the terrorist attack on Strasbourg

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted his German counterpart in a Parisian “courtyard” and went on to propose that the Strasbourg attacks were a call for greater European sovereignty.

The two leaders met at the Elysée Palace the day after yesterday’s deadly attack in the German capital.

Shots were fired at a Christmas market, killing two people and injuring around a dozen others.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday paid tribute to the victim on TV, but stopped short of suggesting any particular action.

Immediately after the Strasbourg attack, Mr Macron spoke on TV and called for a strengthening of European police authorities and a tighter of the system of co-operation between different EU countries.

Image copyright Seville treaty Image caption Mr Macron and Mr Scholz both want to reform the EU

At the Paris talks on Tuesday, he said his aim was “to introduce greater accountability between the member states.”

“The Strasbourg attack showed us that we can no longer do everything alone,” he said.

“That is why we must finally make Europe a digital Union, we must finally make Europe have a eurozone budget, and we must make sure that Europeans can go wherever they want, that is, in Europe or the world,” Mr Macron said.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Macron said he wanted to turn the EU into a ‘community of elites’

He made clear that he wanted to draw up a much-criticised draft revision of the EU treaty to reflect these goals.

And he said the Strasbourg attacks marked “a choice between solidarity and disintegration” – the former directed at those from the EU who have attacked Germany, while the latter could only be avoided by organising “more European solutions”.

On Twitter, Mr Macron asked: “Couldn’t we, with the necessary strength, organise a European partnership to fight terrorism?”

Mr Scholz’s appeal for further closer EU integration may strike some as strange coming from the man who favours moving German politics to the left and placing his and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats centre-right.

But Mr Scholz is a committed federalist who chairs the German parliament’s parliamentary group, and wants deeper integration in the eurozone.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The French president’s ideas would require treaty change and changes to EU legislation

In the weeks after the Brexit vote, Chancellor Merkel appeared keen to focus on working with President Macron to force liberal European reform of the eurozone rather than on the question of Brexit itself.

The Austrian and British opposition parties have voiced concerns about Mr Macron’s use of the Strasbourg killings to push his agenda.

In Parliament, several MEPs accused Mr Macron and Mr Scholz of exploiting the tragedy for their own ends.

“This speech could sound to many that they have the opportunity to have Europe under their aegis,” said Tory MEP Jane Collins.

“The attack didn’t happen when no-one was taking the French president’s calls seriously,” Ms Collins said.

“Everyone watching this speech saw it as an excuse to try to further close down the Irish border,” she added.

“That’s not helpful for all Europe and the Irish, it’s not helpful for those affected by terrorism, and it’s not helpful for all those making the case for stronger EU cooperation.”

At the talks in Paris, Mr Macron said he wanted to build “a European high command” for the future of the bloc, while Mrs Merkel said the discussion could not “only be about policies”.

He did, however, make clear that he was not asking for the Irish border to be closed with customs or, more controversially, border posts.

“I don’t want the atmosphere to be that because [this is] a very grave matter, I want to have difficulties in Germany because I don’t want to see disputes and tensions,” he said.

“Only with clarity can we progress in a real way to the future of the European project.”

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