Europe must renew itself or fall, says France’s President Macron

Europe must renew itself or fall, says France's President Macron
Europe must renew itself or fall, says France's President Macron

The European Union must focus on climate, security and growth after continent-wide elections in two weeks, or fall, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday as its leaders met in Romania to chart the way forward following Brexit.

The leadersof all members except Britain meet on Europe Day in the town of Sibiu, whichhas German and Hungarian roots, 15 years after the EU's expansion east finallyconsigned to history the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World WarTwo.

With EuropeanParliament elections set for May 23-26, they will hammer home their goal ofstaying united despite the Brexit damage, as well as having a first go atassigning the bloc's most powerful jobs later this year.

"In 15 days,some 400 million Europeans will choose between a project…to build Europefurther or a project to destroy, deconstruct Europe and return to nationalism,"Macron said on arriving to the informal talks among the 27 leaders.

"Weneed to move faster now and with more determination on European renaissance,"he told reporters. "Climate, protection of borders and a model of growth, asocial model…is what I really want for the coming years."

France andseven other EU countries proposed getting to "net-zero greenhouse gasemissions" by 2050 for the Sibiu discussion, which is rich in symbolism butexpected to produce no concrete decisions.

That partlyreflects how troubled the times are for the EU.

Divided overissues ranging from migration to democratic standards, the EU is grappling withBrexit and a wave of populism, and faces external challenges from China toRussia to the United States. It is also lagging behind on issues from climatechange to cyber security.

But the 27leaders signed off on a declaration promising to "defend one Europe", "stayunited, through thick and thin" and "always look for joint solutions" in thenext political cycle until 2024.

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