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Speaking after Macron, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU wasn't just a club led by France and Germany.

Macron tackled critics among his National Front opponents at home and European leaders such as newly re-elected Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, rejecting visions of illiberal democracy, hostile to immigration and intolerant of criticism. Macron's ability to deliver on them will determine whether he fulfills what he sees as his historical destiny as a providential national figure, or becomes the latest in a long line of aspiring but failed reformist French presidents. "I call this the democratic Europe", Weber said, gesturing to the ranks of MEPs representing parties ranging from Communists to the far right.

"Faced with authoritarianism, the answer is not democratic authoritarianism but the authority of democracy", he said.

He said Tuesday France is ready to increase its own contribution to the EU budget and insisted European countries should work on more closely harmonizing fiscal systems and tax levels.

"Macron obviously doesn't yet understand that the future of Europe will be Euroskeptic".

Macron's speech was part of a charm offensive ahead of European Parliament elections in May 2019, the first after Britain's exit from the 28-member bloc. Foremost, the uncertainty sparked by German elections in September set off months of negotiations in Berlin, leaving Mr. Macron without his principal European negotiating partner.

In his speech to European lawmakers Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, Macron will launch a drive to seek European citizens' opinions on the European Union's future.

Macron's election previous year, defeating the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and his ardent pro-Europeanism have made him the poster boy for a revived post-Brexit EU whose proponents aim to battle the challenges of populism.

In a sign of further differences within the bloc, the EU's executive on Tuesday recommended accession talks start with Albania and Macedonia even as Mr. Macron said the European Union should get no bigger until there are major reforms.

Macron will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin tomorrow, as France and Germany aim to agree on proposals for European Union reforms by June.


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