The war in Ukraine signals a “change of an era” for Europe, which must now become a more sovereign force and build a common defence, President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the nation on Wednesday.
In an address on Wednesday evening (2 March), Macron told the French people that although he and Western partners had sought alternatives to armed conflict in recent weeks, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who “by himself” had chosen war.
“Democracy is being called into question before our eyes,” said Macron, adding that the war must be an opportunity for Europe, which has “shown remarkable unity”, to become a “power of peace”.
Macron announced that he would gather the EU heads of state and government in Versailles on 10 and 11 March to discuss building a real “European defence”.
On a national level, recognising that the current crisis will have an impact on consumer purchasing power and French companies that benefited from trade with Russia, Macron announced that an “economic and social resilience plan” would be launched to deal with these difficulties, and in particular with the rise in prices.
Finally, as a member of the presidential majority had indicated to EURACTIV France earlier in the day, the president did not announce his candidacy for the presidential election, which would have been “unwelcome”, given the gravity of the crisis.
The president also guaranteed that a debate between the candidates will occur before the April election.