On state visit to Germany, Macron pleads for more Europe and less far-right

27 May 2024 / Interviews

On a state visit to the other side of the Rhine in Germany, Emmanuel Macron launched a vibrant call for a united and strengthened Europe in the face of the rise of the far right and external threats, during his speech in Dresden. Less than two weeks before the European elections, he urged Europeans to “wake up” to these growing challenges.

In front of Dresden's Notre-Dame Church, a symbol of German resilience, Macron alternated between French and German, captivating his audience with passionate calls to defend democracy and freedom in Europe. “An ill wind is blowing in Europe,” he said, warning against the growing fascination with authoritarian regimes and the illiberal moment the continent is currently experiencing.

The president highlighted the threat posed by far-right parties, notably Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National, which could win twice as many votes as Macron's party. In a region like Saxony, where the far right is gaining ground, his message resonates particularly strongly.

Faced with rising external threats, particularly from Russia, Macron insisted on the need for Europe to take charge of its own defense and security. “We will not change the geography with Russia, which today threatens our security and has attacked Ukraine,” he declared. He called for a united and strong response, emphasizing the importance of the Franco-German relationship in this approach.

Emmanuel Macron also called for a review of EU trade rules to better protect European industries against competition from the United States and China. He proposed “doubling” the EU budget to support the energy and digital transition, advocating a European purchasing and defense strategy to ensure fair competition.

This visit to Germany, the first by a French president to the east of the country since François Mitterrand in 1989, was also marked by moments of contemplation and remembrance, notably at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Macron praised the work of remembrance carried out by figures like Serge Klarsfeld, while emphasizing the importance of fighting against the revival of anti-Semitism.

On Tuesday, the French President will receive the Westphalian International Peace Prize in Münster, in recognition of his commitment to Europe. He will also meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss support for Ukraine and the future of Europe, trying to strengthen the Franco-German couple, the driving force of the European Union.

Beyond politics, Macron demonstrated his linguistic skills by speaking in German, an effort that was closely followed by his German teacher, Frank Gröninger. This approach aims to bring European citizens closer together, showing a president determined to reach and understand his neighbors.

In conclusion, Emmanuel Macron pleads for a stronger and more united Europe, capable of facing internal and external challenges, while calling for a clear rejection of extremist forces which threaten the very foundations of European democracy.