European leaders need to "wake up" and act amid a "considerable" risk that the European Union will disappear in the future, French President Emmanuel Macron has warned in an interview with The Economist.
The bloc emerged in the wake of World War II with the aim of avoiding conflict and bringing economic prosperity to the region. Over time, it grew in size and influence. However, the EU has recently faced deep challenges that have shaken its foundations: from the migration crises to economic and financial turmoil and the rising support for extremist parties.
"I don't think I'm being either pessimistic or painting an overly gloomy picture when I say this. I'm just saying that if we don't wake up, face up to this situation and decide to do something about it, there's a considerable risk that in the long run we will disappear geopolitically, or at least that we will no longer be in control of our destiny," Macron told The Economist last month, according to a transcript posted last week.
According to the French president, the EU has been too focused on growing as a market. He also said that the U.S. has changed its strategy by looking more at the Pacific region rather than the Atlantic and that the emergence of China "clearly marginalizes Europe." Macron also mentioned that authoritarian regimes in Turkey and Russia – neighboring nations to the EU – pose a challenge.
"All this has led to the exceptional fragility of Europe which, if it can't think of itself as a global power, will disappear, because it will take a hard knock," Macron, who has been in power since 2017 said.
Apart from challenges at the global scale, Macron also noted internal difficulties among the 28 member states.
"Europe hasn't re-lived civil war through armed conflict, but has lived through selfish nationalism. In Europe there has been a north-south divide on economic issues, and east-west on the migration issue, resulting in the resurgence of populism, all over Europe," Macron said.
"A series of phenomena have left us on the edge of a precipice," the French president noted.
Here is Macron's full interview with The Economist.