Macron calls for ‘multi-speed’ Europe to cope with enlarged bloc

In his annual address to French ambassadors on Monday, President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union may need to adopt “multi-speed” decision making if it’s to progress on “essential topics” as it considers integrating Ukraine, Moldova and others into the bloc.

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Macron told an audience of French ambassadors gathered in Paris that the EU should “accept more integration” for the members who were favourable, while others could progress at a slower speed.

“I am well-placed to say that it is quite difficult to make progress on essential topics among the EU’s 27 members,” he said, adding it would not get easier with 32 or 35 members.

The French president did not elaborate on how this multi-speed Europe would function, but said an overhaul was necessary for bloc to maintain its attractiveness.

“The risk is to think we can enlarge without reform.”

Diplomatic strategy

The annual conference of ambassadors, held in Paris over three days, is an important meeting of French diplomacy in which the president, prime minister and minister of Europe can define clear guidelines for French diplomacy in the year to come.

Sharing their experiences at the meeting are 162 ambassadors and 15 permanent representatives of France to international organisations.

Topping the agenda is the war in Ukraine, the coup in Niger (and potential military intervention by West African bloc Ecowas), the war in Sudan, and the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Our international order is being challenged,” Macron said, calling for a strengthening of French diplomatic efforts.

“War has returned to European soil, anti-French sentiment is rife, fuelled by anti-colonialism or a perceived anti-colonialism that a double standard is being employed.”

To help prevent a weakening of the West – and of Europe in particular – France needed to consolidate its diplomatic strategies, Macron added.

“We need to be clear, without being excessively pessimistic,” he said, citing the rise of “new forms of protectionism” and undemocratic powers.

Faced with global challenges, including security challenges, climate change and cyber threats, Macron said that diplomatic efforts should be kept simple.

“We should protect our interests. We should also stand for our principles and our values, which are universal.” Macron calls for ‘multi-speed’ Europe to cope with enlarged bloc

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