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  • French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to set out plans for reforming the European Union at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, September 26, 2017.

    French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech to set out plans for reforming the European Union at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, September 26, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 September 2017

Macron has suggested creating a EU military intervention force.

The French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed that the European Union create a common military force in a speech on European integration.

French Union Workers Continue Push to Overturn Labor Reforms

During an over-hour long speech to students at the Sorbonne University in Paris, the 39-year-old former investment banker outlined a raft of proposals for the 28-member European Union — including extra security measures.

He offered to reinforce Europe's security and defense by creating "a common intervention force" by 2020, a common budget and a common strategy, a European academy for intelligence service and a common investigation force on terrorism. 

Macron's proposals for a post-Brexit shake-up included a European "rapid reaction force" to work with national armies. An EU-wide agency to handle asylum requests, a beefed up common border force and a European innovation agency were among other ideas for EU organizations.

But Macron's vision for a new phase of European integration, a process which started in the post-war era and led to the creation of the EU, is likely to run into objections in some countries.

Macron is desperate for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's endorsement of his reform agenda, but his plans were dealt a blow by Sunday's election in Germany that saw eurosceptic parties make gains.

Merkel must now try to form a government likely to include the Free Democratic Party, whose leader Christian Lindner is an outspoken critic of Macron's European agenda and who considers a eurozone budget to be a "red line."

Macron appeared to respond to Lindner directly on Tuesday, saying: "I don't have red lines, I only have horizons."

But he failed to define how big any future eurozone budget might be, having previously said he wanted it to be the equivalent of "several points" of eurozone GDP which could amount to several hundred billion euros.

One person close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused him of acting like a "Sun King" with a "God-given right to rule" in recent comments to AFP on condition of anonymity.

Among his propositions was a new type of tax on technology giants like Facebook and Apple — based on how much value they create in a country rather than their profits — and taxes on financial transactions across the bloc.

Nationalist governments in Poland or Hungary also do not share his desire to send new powers to Brussels, while his plan for harmonized corporation tax will ring alarm bells in low-tax countries such as Ireland.

As for the measures he proposed to tackle climate change, they contrasted with various bills approved earlier this month by former investment banker's administration, including one to cut public spending on organic farming.

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