“The Europe that we know is too weak, too slow, too inefficient,” said French President Emmanuel Macron as he laid out his vision for a “profound transformation” of the EU during a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris on Tuesday.
“But Europe alone can give us the ability to act in the world faced with big contemporary challenges,” he said before making a series of proposals to deepen the bloc’s political, economic and military integration.
Macron repeated his presidential campaign pledge to push for the creation of a eurozone finance minister, budget and parliament as well as harmonised tax codes across the union. He also called for a shared EU defence budget and rapid reaction forces to complement national armies – a move that had been blocked by the UK which feared they would undermine NATO.
In an effort to designed to head off popular anger at multinational companies availing of loopholes that allow them to minimise their tax burden, Macron proposed taxing technology companies like Apple and Facebook in the countries where they make money rather than where they are registered. Further revenue-raising measures included a financial transaction tax that could be used to fund overseas aid and a carbon tax on goods arriving from countries with low environmental standards. This latter measure, if adopted, could set the EU on a collision course with the US which recently pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Another roadblock could come in the form of Angela Merkel’s probable new coalition partners in Germany, the FDP, who are strongly opposed to the idea of a eurozone budget and finance minister. Nonetheless, Macron expressed his desire to see France and Germany move closer together, fully integrating their corporate rules by 2024.
Other proposals included an EU asylum agency to coordinate the processing of migrants, common EU identity cards and the establishment of European universities.