In a New Year address, French President Emmanuel Macron said 2018 will be “decisive” for Europe and pledged to push forward with his drive for greater integration.
Macron made the remarks in a televised speech on Sunday evening, declaring that “we need to rediscover a European ambition, to rediscover a more sovereign, more united, more democratic, Europe because it is good for our people.”
Macron called on European citizens to express what they wanted from Europe through public consultations that he has championed so that leaders could design a “great project.”
“At European level, 2018 will be decisive,” he said.
“I need for us, together, not to give way on anything, neither to nationalists nor to the skeptics,” he added.
“I will continue to work with all of our European partners, especially with Germany,” Macron said.
Among the 40-year-old president’s plans is a scheme to revamp the single currency bloc by introducing an EU finance minister, who would also oversee a eurozone budget and chair Eurogroup meetings.
The European Commission last month set out proposals that chimed to a large extent with Macron’s ideas. They included transforming the eurozone’s bailout arm into a European Monetary Fund, which would help stem economic crises from spiraling out of control across the bloc.
Both Macron and the Commission are also keen to create the post of a eurozone finance minister. But that idea has met resistance from other EU members. Germany is concerned that such a figure could wield too much power while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte clashed with Macron at a summit in Brussels last month over France’s desire to speed up reform talks.