Macron tells MEPs he wants abortion recognised as right in EU Charter

French President addresses European Parliament in first speech launching French presidency of the European Union

French President Emanuel Macron
French President Emanuel Macron

French President Emanuel Macron stunned his audience of MEPs in Strasbourg, when he called for an updated European Charter of Human Rights, to include the recognition of the right to abortion and the protection of the environment as a human right.

Macron was addressing the plenary of the European Parliament in his first address laying out his ambitions for the French presidency, as well as the future direction Europe should head in.

“We must update this charter to be more explicit on protection of the environment, the recognition of the right to abortion,” Macron said, in an opening salvo that came just a day after the election of Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola – an anti-choice MEP – as president of the European Parliament.

Metsola yesterday said she would uphold the EP’s recognition of abortion as a woman’s right, in her replies to the press right after her election. Metsola said that despite her past votes and views, she would act in line with EU parliament doctrine and direction. “My position is that of the European Parliament – its position has been unambiguous.”

Macron’s words on climate change were typical of the French statesman as he ticked the boxes of the European bloc’s major concerns. “In Paris, in Europe, is where a universal consciousness on climate was raised; it is the continent with an objective for carbon neutrality by 2050, the most ambitious on the planet. Notwithstanding, we need to go from intent to action.”

He followed that statement with calls to revitalise EU industry and invest in the technology of the future.

In a rousing speech, Macron reference the way Europe’s history had been shaped, calling for self-reliance in a world that was “uncertain and violent”.

Some of the principal priorities announced by France for its presidency are the green transition, regulation and accountability of digital platforms, and a social Europe.

The presidency’s ambitions have been termed as “a more sovereign Europe, a new European model for growth, and a humane Europe.”

Among the French MEPs interviewed by the European Parliament’s press department on the prospects of the presidency were François-Xavier Bellamy (EPP).

With presidential elections in France in the spring, Bellamy hopes the presidency is not just communication exercise, “but the realisation of two or three clearly defined priorities to achieve a single objective: the reduction of our vulnerabilities,” he said, hoping for more focus on European power supply, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and the reform of European migration policy.

Manon Aubry, co-president of The Left in the European Parliament said the French presidency should be entirely focused on the climate crisis and the rise of inequalities.

She said France should “push and defend a more ambitious Green Deal, fight for a real European minimum wage and push for the total transformation of the current economic governance framework by putting an end to all competition and austerity”.

Renew’s Marie-Pierre Vedrenne said the presidency should prmote an innovative, socially fair and economically responsible recovery, as well as an opportunity to work for a united Europe that does not compromise on values. “We must strengthen a Europe that protects, that defends its vision of the world and that strengthens the feeling of belonging.”

Green MEPs David Cormand and Michèle Rivasi said it was a duty to get the EU back on track on rule of law in order to defend and protect the fundamental rights of all. “The climate crisis and the protection of the environment should be priorities for the EU and the French presidency. In view of the ecological, social and democratic crises, France will have to strengthen again Europe’s ambitions and find solutions to end the blockages which too often paralyze the EU."

The French presidency should be driven in its work by the need for social and climate justice, said Sylvie Guillaume, speaking for the Group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). More specifically, she expects France to bring forward the Fit for 55 legislative climate action package at the Council and that an interinstitutional agreement could be reached on the European directive on minimum wage.

About the Conference on the Future of Europe, another priority of the French presidency, Guillaume wishes that “its conclusions will be given real substance, 'without filter' and even if this means that treaties have to be modified".

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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