Macron calls for European sovereignty

Demonstrators in New York stage an anti-war protest on April 15 after President Donald Trump launched airstrikes in Syria

Macron's speech was welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said: "The true France is back".

Macron tackled critics among his National Front opponents at home and European leaders such as newly re-elected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, rejecting visions of illiberal democracy, hostile to immigration and intolerant of criticism.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday France will contribute 50 million euros (43.5 million pounds) towards urgent humanitarian aid for Syria following a meeting with a group of non-governmental organisations (NGO) in Paris.

He said Tuesday France is ready to increase its own contribution to the EU budget and insisted European countries should work on more closely harmonizing fiscal systems and tax levels.

"Some people call this the old Europe".

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Juncker said Macron's arrival in power in France had given new hope to the world's biggest trading bloc. A decision to open membership talks would require all 28 member states' approval in June.

However, he warned Macron that "Europe can not be just France and Germany", in reference to the prominence self-awarded by these two nations in the drive to reform the European Union, mainly in the context of the crisis caused by the exit from United Kingdom.

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. Mr. Macron only has a year to change the dynamic before European Parliament elections, which in the past have yielded breakthroughs for anti-EU parties. Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday. In a thinly veiled reference to Russia, Macron said the European Union was battling against "authoritarian powers. with a clear strategy to call into question the multilateral system".

All EU countries, except Britain and Hungary, have agreed to seek the opinions of their citizens on the EU's future through debates and online consultations.

Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin tomorrow, as France and Germany aim to agree on proposals for European Union reforms by June.

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