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Macron Announces Bid To Reinvigorate 'Weakened' EU


French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a special congress gathering both houses of parliament at the Versailles Palace, near Paris, on July 3.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he plans to launch "democratic conventions" across Europe in a bid to "refound" the European Union.

Macron made the announcement on July 3 during a rare joint session of the French parliament in which he called on a "new generation of leaders" to reinvigorate the 28-member bloc.

"The last decade was a cruel one for Europe," Macron told lawmakers. "We managed crises, but we lost our way."

"That is why a new generation of leaders must take up the European idea again at its origin, which is essentially political," he added.

Macron said France and Germany would launch "democratic conventions," in the form of national debates about the EU, across the continent by the end of the year.

He said that EU leaders need to battle skepticism among the public, which he said was not without merit.

"I firmly believe in Europe, but I don't find this skepticism unjustified," Macron said, saying the bloc has been "weakened by the spread of bureaucracy."

Macron soundly defeated far-right politician Marine Le Pen, a fierce EU critic, in a May 7 presidential runoff.

In the same speech, Macron also announced that "this autumn" he will lift a state of emergency implemented in 2015 following a terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130 people, adding that the government would also bolster security measures to combat Islamic extremism.

"I will reestablish the freedoms of the French people by lifting the state of emergency this autumn because these freedoms are the precondition of the existence of a strong democracy," he said.

He said that his government would "work to prevent any new attack” and fight extremists “without pity, without regrets, without weakness."

But he also stressed the importance of guaranteeing "full respect for individual liberties."

The state of emergency enacted after the November 2015 Paris nightclub attack has been extended five times. It is expected to be extended again in July by Macron's centrist government while a tough new antiterrorism law is being prepared.

Rights watchdogs have said French authorities are abusing antiterrorism measures to curtail legitimate dissent.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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