Macron Appeals for EU Unity in Face of Nationalism

Spreading student protests train strikes pressure Macron

He spoke as Britain is leaving the European Union next year, euro-skeptic populists have won elections in Hungary and Italy and the European Union confronts the Polish government over judicial independence.

Macron has told EU lawmakers that he wants to anchor countries of the Western Balkans to the European project, but that now isn't the time to allow any to join.

Addressing the European Parliament, he won applause from lawmakers after condemning the rise of "illiberal democracies" even within the EU and portraying a "Europe that protects" people.

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

"I am for the most integrated and closest possible relationship after Brexit, and there's a well-known solution - it's called European Union membership", he said.

Juncker said Macron's arrival in power in France had given new hope to the world's biggest trading bloc.

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.

"We are in a context where a kind of European civil war is emerging, in which our differences and national egos sometimes seem more important than what unites us", Mr. Macron said in his first speech to the European Parliament as French president.

But Macron declared that for a Europe "faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism but the authority of democracy".

He called on European Union countries to defend values of liberty, equality and diversity.

Macron was to attend a debate on Europe in the eastern town of Epinal later yesterday.

He is also expected to push for deep reforms of the 19-nation eurozone.

The coalition German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally formed has stuck to Germany's reluctance to share financial burdens, defying Mr. Macron's core ambition for a common eurozone budget to boost investment and fight recessions. Foremost, the uncertainty sparked by German elections in September set off months of negotiations in Berlin, leaving Mr. Macron without his principal European negotiating partner.

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