Merkel: Butikofer on how German Chancellor is 'presenting' Macron

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The French President has frequently stressed the importance of the EU and the benefits of being a member of the bloc. Mr Macron is often credited with helping steer the EU’s agenda, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Since the UK left the EU last year, the French President has also hit out at Britain’s new-found sovereignty and control in relation to its COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

However, recently resurfaced comments suggest that, while proclaiming the strength of the EU, he also harboured doubts.

In 2017, several months into his premiership, Mr Macron spoke to students at the Sorbonne university in Paris.

He said: “As I have done at every point in front of the French people, I would today like to say with resolute conviction: the Europe of today is too weak, too slow, too inefficient.

“But Europe alone can enable us to take action in the world, in the face of the big contemporary challenges.”

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Mr Macron used the occasion to highlight the success of nationalist parties in Europe, which he said was a response to globalisation.

His remarks came just days after the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was elected to the country’s Parliament.

The party’s success marked the first time in the history of modern Germany that voters had elected a far-right party.

Mr Macron said: “For too long we were sure in our belief that the past would not come back, we thought that the lessons had been learned.

“Our weakness, blindness or lack of awareness have created the conditions for their victory.

“Because we have forgotten that we must stay behind this ambition! Because we have forgotten to defend Europe!”

He also highlighted Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump as examples of “isolationism gaining ground”.

The French President also spoke about the 73 seats in the European Parliament freed up by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

He said that filling the seats should be “Europe’s response to Brexit”.

Mr Macron was however deliberately vague about Brexit during his speech, saying that he had carefully chosen his words.

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He added: “In the same way, in a few years’ time the UK will be able to find its place, if it wishes, in this EU refocused on uncompromising values and an effective market.

“This is why you haven’t heard me talking about Brexit this afternoon.”

During the pandemic Mr Macron has hit out at Britain in the wake of its successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The EU’s rollout of jabs initially lagged far behind that of the UK due to supply issues at production plants in Europe.

The bloc accused British-Swedish drug giant AstraZeneca of not meeting its delivery targets for its vaccine in the EU.

In response to the shortfall, Mr Macron was among those in the bloc to back export control mechanisms by the European Commission.

The measures are designed to stop vaccines leaving the EU in a bid to strengthen its own supply chain.

Mr Macron hit out at the UK, saying it “did not export many doses, actually, none”.

In January the French President also took aim at the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine itself.

Despite being cleared for use by the European Medicines Agency, he said the jab was “quasi-ineffective for people over 65”.
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