express– The French leader took part in a news conference as France prepares to take on the six-month rotating presidency of the EU. The 43-year-old stressed his priority would be to reinforce sovereignty and highlighted the importance of stopping illegal migration.
He said: “If we have to sum up in one sentence the objective of this presidency… I would say that we must move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a Europe that is powerful in the world, fully sovereign, free of his choices and master of his destiny.”
Mr Macron added: “To prevent the right of asylum which was invented on the European continent and which is our honour from being misguided, we absolutely must find a Europe which knows how to protect its borders.”
His message comes as Eastern Europe is gripped by a migrant crisis at the Belarus border.
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is accused of orchestrating the movement of Middle Eastern refugees into the country and then allowing them to illegally cross into EU states Poland and Lithuania.
Paris will take on the EU presidency from January 1 and Mr Macron has put forward proposals to set up an emergency taskforce to assist issues at EU borders.
He has also called for a reform of 26-nation Schengen zone, which allows the freedom of movement of people.
Mr Macron said: “When a member state suddenly has to face a crisis which requires strengthening control at the external borders of our Union, as we have experienced once again recently, it must be able to count on the support of Frontex.
“But also on the solidarity reinforcement of the member states in police, gendarmes and material.”
Mr Macron added he wants the EU to hold regular political meetings on migration – much like officials already do on finance.
His tough stance on borders comes just four months before he is set to fight for re-election.
Right-wing opponents have been critical of Mr Macron’s perceived soft stance on the issue during his first term in office.
During the conference at the Elysée Palace in Paris, Mr Macron refused to say whether he will stand again in April for his La République En Marche party.
He said: “The mandate given to me by the French, I will exercise it until the last quarter of the year.
“The challenges, ours, whether they are health, whether they are migratory, whether they are energy, involve choices.
“Tell me when to stop working democratically: it’s at the end of the mandate so I will work until the end of the mandate.
“There are sometimes important choices that must be made a few weeks before the end of the mandate.
“If I am faced with this situation, I will.”