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Thursday, February 29 2024

Macron meets von der Leyen as France kicks off EU Council Presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron
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Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron met here on Friday January 7 with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as France took over the rotating six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU).

At a press conference, Macron outlined the French Presidency’s agenda and said that Paris will focus on promoting the EU in the international community, pushing the digital transformation and protecting the EU’s external borders, Xinhua news agency reported.

Von der Leyen recalled the solidarity between European countries during the pandemic. She said that over 70 per cent of the EU’s adult population have now been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and that the EU aims to donate and deliver 1.7 billion vaccine doses around the world by the middle of this year.

“France takes over the EU Council Presidency in the particular context of the pandemic,” said von der Leyen.

“I believe it is high time for the ‘Europe of defense’ to move up a gear,” she said, stressing the need for a genuine Defense Union.

Macron and von der Leyen agreed that the ongoing negotiations to resolve the tensions between Russia and Ukraine must involve the EU, with Macron adding that “It’s a good thing that there are discussions between the US and Russia.”

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