President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday urged a Franco-German push to make Europe a stronger and more confident global player that could prevent chaos on the world stage. Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have used a series of war anniversaries to project unity as they push back against populist and nationalist forces in Europe and Donald Trump's isolationist America First stance.
With half a year until European Parliament elections in which far-right forces look to make gains, Macron made a passionate plea for stronger backing from Merkel on a range of reforms to strengthen Europe.
Europe, and within it the Franco-German couple, have the obligation not to let the world slip into chaos and to guide it on the road to peace, Macron told the German parliament. That's why Europe must be stronger... and win more sovereignty, he said at a ceremony to honor the victims of past wars and dictatorships.
Macron said it was Europe that had led the drive for green energy and against climate change and was now most strongly pushing multilateral approaches to trade, security, migration and environmental policy.
The first French president to address the Bundestag in 18 years, Macron called for greater European unity in order for the bloc to meet future challenges in an uncertain world.
He said Europe must not become a plaything of great powers, must assume greater responsibility for its security and its defense, and must not accept a subordinate role in world politics.
Merkel said she agreed with Macron's assessment that Europe stands at a crossroads, before the two headed into a meeting to discuss a range of policy challenges -- from a joint Euro zone budget to migration policy and taxing Internet giants.
The German leader reiterated that she backed Macron's proposal for a future European army as a symbol of a united continent -- an idea that has raised Trump's hackles.
While strong on symbolism, the Franco-German partnership and European reform push have been plagued by policy differences and the domestic troubles of the two leaders.
Since a Franco-German joint cabinet meeting on Europe in June, challenges have piled up with Brexit nearing and a budget conflict escalating between Brussels and Italy.