June 23. 2024. 8:46

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Macron heckled presenting EU economy vision in The Hague

Protestors interrupted President Emmanuel Macron’s speech as he presented his vision of the EU economy at a talk in The Hague during his two-day trip to the Netherlands on Tuesday.

Invited by the Dutch think tank Nexus Institut, Macron presented his vision for the EU economy but was quickly interrupted by protestors who criticised the president for his inaction on climate and bemoaned his democratic credentials amid ongoing tense protests over pension reform at home.

“I think we lost something. Where is French democracy?” one man shouted at the start of the event while another displayed a banner that read: “President of violence and hypocrisy”, Reuters reported.

“I can answer all the questions about what we are discussing in France”, replied Macron.

“This is a democracy, and a democracy is exactly a place where you can demonstrate” and see “this type of intervention”, he added.

Macron went on to give his speech as the protestors were evacuated from the room.

Speaking about the government’s pension reform which it pushed through parliament without a vote, Macron was keen to point out that “in other countries, it goes well beyond 64 years”. “These reforms are essential,” he stressed.

The president also presented his five pillars for an EU economy: the single market, industrial policy, protection, reciprocity and cooperation.

“We must reduce our dependence and strengthen our European sovereignty. Europe was too much driven by the customer approach and not enough by the citizen approach,” he said.

“This does not mean distancing ourselves from our allies, but not being mere witnesses to history,” he said to quell the controversy caused by his statements that called on the EU to keep its distances from the US and China.

In his speech, Macron also insisted on implementing a “green industrial policy” at the EU level that would require being more self-sufficient as a bloc and relying on more partners.

Regarding EU trade agreements with other countries, the president said the EU should strive for “reciprocity” and only agree to deals if other countries respect the Paris Climate agreements, for example.

Macron’s visit is the first by a French president to the Netherlands since 2000 and follows the royal couple’s trip to France in 2016.

(Hugo Struna | EURACTIV.fr)