Macron tells Davos that European Union must unite to compete with China and the US

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 1:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 5:59am

French President Emmanuel Macron told the world’s business elite in Davos Wednesday that the European Union must pull together to compete with China and the US – and called on the “less ambitious” EU countries not to “block the more ambitious in the room”.

In speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Macron said that those using the euro currency must be able to agree on a “much stronger” and “fair” system, and that EU countries need to coordinate their tax policies “because otherwise talents will disappear.”

He also made a veiled swipe about Donald Trump, who is to speak on Friday and has not yet arrived in Davos, when saying that heavy snowfall might lead to some people questioning climate change.

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“Fortunately you didn’t invite anybody sceptical of global warming this year,” he said to WEF founder Klaus Schwab, who was onstage with him.

Macron also called for a “global compact” to harness the negative effects of globalisation, warning against a race to the bottom on taxes and regulation.

Elsewhere in his speech, which he delivered in English Macron boasted that “France is back at the core of Europe,” under his government’s leadership.

He said that he wants to make innovation the “centrepiece” of his economic policy with a 10 billion euro (US$12.4 billion) fund to finance “disruptive innovation”.

Macron also promoted his tax cuts for businesses and says France’s labour rules need to “be much more adapted to business environment” to make the country more competitive.

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“In France it was forbidden to fail and forbidden to succeed, it reduced your way to manoeuvre. Now it should be more easy to fail and take risks,” he said.

Macron, a former Rothschild investment banker, is the darling of this year’s World Economic Forum.

His approval rating has stabilised around 50 per cent after taking a dive during the fall as he emerged from the honeymoon period that followed his election victory in May.

The French leader last came to the forum as a government minister in 2016. He used that visit to make contact with global big bosses, helping build his international credentials 18 months before the French elections that brought him to power.

Bloomberg also contributed to this report