Macron speaks of 'sovereign' EU during French presidency
France is due to start the rotating presidency of European Union on January 1. Macron has already proposed that the bloc should have regular political meetings on the issue of migration
French President Emmanuel Macron outlined France's priority on reinforcing European Union's sovereignty, notably its borders. His reaction came in context of France assuming presidency of the EU on January 1.
The rotating presidency of six months is coming to France as Belarus is facing allegations that it had engineered a refugee crisis by forcing Middle East migrants across border to Poland and Lithuania, both EU states.
European Union has seen differing opinions among countries in the block over the issue of response to immigration and policing of common external borders of Schengen area.
"A sovereign Europe, for me, has the foremost aspect of being capable to keep its borders under control," Macron told a news conference at which he presented France's priority for its EU presidency.
Among France's proposals will be setting up an emergency reaction capability to help EU states facing crises at their borders, Macron said.
He also wants the bloc to have regular political meetings on migration - like euro zone states already do on economic matters.
Macron faces a presidential election in April, and conservative and far-right parties are likely to make migration, on which he is viewed by some as a soft touch, a campaign issue.
Macron also said the EU needed to define a new defence strategy that would strengthen its ability to defend itself, even though the trans-Atlantic NATO alliance remained useful and effective.
He said he wanted to "Europeanise" France's security relationship with the West African Sahel region, where French soldiers are deployed in the fight against Islamist militants.
(With inputs from agencies)