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Macron: Europe Splintering into 'Civil War'


French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech before a debate on the Future of Europe at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 17, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Tuesday that Europe is splintering into a "civil war" between democratic and authoritarian states.

Macron, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, called for the 28-nation European Union to unite against populist, nationalist trends that have endangered Europe's concept as a liberal democratic stronghold. He spoke as Britain is leaving the EU next year, euro-skeptic populists have won elections in Hungary and Italy and the EU confronts the Polish government over judicial independence.

"There seems to be a sort of European civil war, where our differences and sometimes our national egotisms can seem more important than presenting a united face to the world," the 40-year-old Macron said. "There is a fascination with the illiberal and it's growing all the time."

But Macron declared that for a Europe "faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism but the authority of democracy."

He won election last year against far-right, anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen and has advanced his pro-Europeanism views in the face of populist leanings elsewhere on the continent.

"I don't want to belong to a generation of sleepwalkers, I don't want to belong to a generation that's forgotten its own past," Macron said. "I want to belong to a generation that will defend European sovereignty because we fought to obtain it. And I will not give in to any kind of fixation on authoritarianism."

Most lawmakers gave him a standing ovation, but nationalists from Britain, France and elsewhere sat in silence.

Macron laid out his plan for a more deeply united EU, calling for a new tax on the digital economy to help pay for the EU budget, more support for refugees in the face of opposition to waves of immigrants in some countries, closer defense cooperation and stronger management of the euro, the EU's common currency.

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