September 26, 2017 / 3:35 PM / a year ago

EU's Juncker hails Macron speech as 'very European'

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed Emmanuel Macron’s major speech on EU reform on Tuesday as “very European” and thanked the French head of state for his support for the EU’s efforts in Brussels.

FILE PHOTO - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker participates in a debate on the state of the Union during the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in Brussels, Belgium September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

“A very European speech from my friend Emmanuel Macron,” the EU chief executive wrote in French on Twitter. “Europe needs courage. Thank you for your support for the work of the EU institutions.”

“What we need now is a roadmap to advance the Union at 27. We have to openly discuss all ideas and decide before May 2019,” Juncker added, referring to his call in a keynote address of his own two weeks ago for a summit after Britain leaves the Union in March 2019 to decide the future for the remaining 27 members.

Juncker’s chief-of-staff Martin Selmayr, who kept up a stream of tweets throughout Macron’s address at the Sorbonne highlighting similarities between his proposals and those of Juncker, tweeted: “Rarely Europe saw such convergence of views between a French president a Commission president.

“Some nuances, yes. But also strong commonalities.”

Among key proposals made by Juncker and Macron was for the euro zone to have its own budget and finance minister. However, Juncker has warned against Macron’s suggestion that euro zone states create their own separate institutions.

Juncker says that may renew divisions between the richer west and poorer east of the continent and wants countries like Poland to be encouraged to join the euro zone and for a euro zone budget to managed by existing institutions of the whole EU.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald

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