France’s President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said the European Union should embrace a joint budget, shared military force and harmonised taxes to stay globally relevant.
With Brexit looming, Mr Macron warned the rest of Europe against the dangers of anti-immigrant nationalism and fragmentation, saying that goes against the principles of a shared Europe born from the tragedy of world wars.
"We thought the past would not come back ... we thought we had learned the lessons," Mr Macron told a crowd of European students at the Sorbonne university on Tuesday as he seeks to make France’s mark on Europe’s future.
After a far-right party entered the German parliament for the first time in 60 years, Mr Macron said this isolationist attitude has resurfaced "because of blindness ... because we forgot to defend Europe".
"The Europe that we know is too slow, too weak, too ineffective," he said.
To change that, he proposed a joint budget for European countries sharing the euro currency that would allow investment in European projects and help stabilise the eurozone in case of economic crisis.
This budget would at some point need to come from national budgets of countries sharing the euro currency, for instance using domestic taxes on businesses.
While re-elected German chancellor Angela Merkel has signalled openness to some of Mr Macron’s ideas, one potential ally in her new government is deeply sceptical about a eurozone budget.
Mr Macron’s office says he wants his Europe strategy to play a role in Germany’s coalition-building talks.
Merkel and Macron have different ideas on where to spend money in the EU - Frank Baasner explains where they could find common ground pic.twitter.com/lcOYDTFjK1— DW Business (@dw_business) September 26, 2017
The euro has fallen steadily since news that Mrs Merkel won the German national election with a weakened hand.
To reduce inequalities across the EU, Mr Macron also suggested greater harmonisation of EU tax policies, notably on corporate taxes, and taxing internet giants where they make money and not where they are registered.
Mr Macron is also proposing that every EU country guarantee a minimum wage and payroll charges.
Mr Macron said: "I believe deeply in this innovation economy," but insisted "we must have this debate" about making taxation more fair.
Mr Macron also proposed a shared European military intervention force and defence budget.
He suggested the creation of a European intelligence academy to better fight against terrorism, and a joint civil protection force.
He wants to open the French military to European soldiers and proposed other EU member states do the same on a voluntary basis.
To deal with Europe’s migration flux, Mr Macron wants a European asylum agency and standard EU identity documents.
Mr Macron’s policies have met resistance at home, and riot police held back a few dozen protesters outside the Sorbonne.
Remarkable speech by Macron, optimistic, creative solutions to common European challenges. What a contrast to May in Florence.— Simon Nixon (@Simon_Nixon) September 26, 2017