Emmanuel Macron says the EU needs reform in 2017
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Famously pro-EU French President Mr Macron has endured a tense relationship with the UK’s prime ministers since coming to office in May 2017. In September he was caught in a dispute with Boris Johnson after a row broke out between London and Paris over a military pact between the UK, US and Australia. Australia pulled out of an existing $37billion (£27billion) deal with France and signed up to the Aukus pact with the US and UK, to provide it with nuclear-powered submarines.
As a result the French defence minister cancelled talks with her UK counterpart and the French government recalled ambassadors in Washington and Canberra.
On September 24 Downing Street said Mr Johnson and Mr Macron agreed to “continue working closely together around the world” after the pair held talks.
Mr Macron has also had friction with Mr Johnson over Brexit in the past, and claimed in December last year that the UK’s vote to leave the EU was secured on “many lies and false promises”.
However during Mr Macron’s 2017 presidential campaign he admitted that Europe needed to reform, or Frexit would be a distinct possibility.
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Mr Macron told the BBC: “I am a pro-European.
“I defended constantly in this election the European idea, the European policies and so on because I do believe it is extremely important for French people and for the place of our country in globalisation.
“But at the same time we have to face the situation, to listen to our people, and to listen to the fact that they are extremely angry today, impatient and the dysfunction of the EU is no more sustainable.
“So I do consider that my mandate, the day after, will be at the same time to reform in depth the European Union and the European project.”
He added: “The question is that you have almost half of this country angry with the European idea and with a lack of satisfaction vis-a-vis what we decided ten years ago and during the recent years.
“So we have to reform this Europe, we need a new European Union in situation to protect our people and to regulate our globalisation.”
Mr Macron added that he would be betraying the French people if he allowed the EU to function as it was.
He said: “If the day after I decide to follow up and pursue the current functioning of the European Union I will betray my people.
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“I don’t want to do so, because the day after we will have a Frexit or the Front National again.”
Mr Macron was speaking in the last week of campaigning before French voters decided to elect the pro-EU centrist over the Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen.
With Angela Merkel’s impending departure as Germany’s Chancellor, Mr Macron has become one of the EU’s most influential politicians.
For most of her 16 years in office, Ms Merkel had been a dominant partner in the European Council.
Dubbed as ‘Queen Europe’, she had been crucial in shaping the EU’s response to a string of challenges in an estimated 200 summits.
Yet Mr Macron is now Europe’s “top dog”, according to former MEP Andrew Duff, who was speaking in the Telegraph.
The French president has insisted that the bloc is less reliant on the likes of the United States and is determined that the EU builds its own military capacity.
Last Tuesday Mr Macron said: “The Europeans must stop being naïve.
“We are under pressure from powers, which at times harden [their stance].
“We need to react and show that we have the power and capacity to defend ourselves ‒ not escalating things but protecting ourselves.”
The president was speaking after Greece signed a €3 billion deal (£2.56 billion) for French frigate warships.
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