‘EUROPE IS FRAGILE’ Barnier warns EU must fight to DEFEND itself

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The Frenchman told a conference in Finland of centre-right European politicians: “The European project is fragile, it is under threat, it is perishable and at the same time it is vital.” 

With Germany the only European nation with a hope of being big enough to have its own seat in the G8 group of major economies by 2050, preserving the multi-country bloc was vital if the continent’s fate was not to be decided by emerging giants like China.

He told delegates at the European People’s Party conference in Helskinki: “We need a strong Europe that speaks in one and the same voice.

“We must forcefully defend and promote our European model. 

“If we don’t write the rules of our game, China will write them for us.

“We need an EU that is capable and credible when it comes to security, defence, cyber-security and civil protection.

“We all have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe with their fear, their populist deceit, their attacks against the European project. 

“There is now a Farage in every country.”

“Europe should deliver opportunities for all”, he said.

It should “massively invest” in technologies like artificial intelligence and electric vehicles; fight climate change by ending greenhouse gas emissions by 2050; and establish firm external borders to stop illegal immigration.

“If we want a Europe that is sovereign and close to citizens on what really matters, the time to act is now. We must stand up for Europe,” said Mr Barnier.

In Berlin, the man hoping to replace Angela Merkel as leader of their Christian Democratic Union party and eventually as German Chancellor, warned Brexit was “the biggest threat the EU, at present, could be facing”.

Financier Friedrich Merz said he did not want the UK to hold another referendum, as it would push Brexit-backers to become “even more radical anti-Europeans.

“My personal view is that Brexit will happen. Perhaps the British will come back one day, 10 years after, but in the time being we have to have the best agreements we could have,” he said.

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