Weber and Pittella hail Macron's victory
The leaders of Parliament's two biggest groups agree that Macron's victory in France is a good sign for Europe.
Emmanuel Macron | Photo credit: Press Association
Emmanuel Macron's victory in in the French presidential election has been described as a watershed for Europe by the EPP group leader, Manfred Weber.
The German MEP said the election represented "a vote against radicalisation and nationalism and a resounding yes to Europe."
He said, "It sends a great and strong signal that you can win an election on a pro-Europe platform."
"The result was a good, fresh start for the EU and I welcome it. I also welcome that Macron has said that EU treaty changes are not taboo. I agree with this but the agenda for any treaty change must not be set by nationalists."
On the new Macron presidency, Weber said, "His first priority has to be to look after the internal reforms in France.
"Treaty change is an option and is on our agenda too but, for now, it is not a priority."
On Brexit, Weber said, "The Council last weekend spoke out in defence of EU unity but the UK is not being helpful or conducive to the Brexit talks."
He said a new survey showed that some 78 per cent of respondents said that, in the Brexit talks, the EU had to look after the interests of the EU27 and also the rights of citizens affected by Brexit. Some 88 per cent said the EU should ensure that the UK to complies fully with its outstanding financial obligations before leaving.
Weber said he was more concerned with the interests of the 460 million citizens who will remain in the EU and less for the UK citizens who will be excluded once the UK has left the EU.
Looking at the details of the negotiations, Weber said, "Contrary to what some have said, I think the question of the divorce bill will be the easiest thing to resolve. That is a relatively easy task. More problematic will be the issue of the Irish peace process - it would be stupid to put the peace process at risk - and citizens' rights."
Further comment on the French election came from S&D group leader Gianni Pittella who, speaking separately in Strasbourg, said the outcome showed that "the Franco-German machine is moving forward again and this is extremely positive."
The Italian deputy told reporters that it was wrong to suggest "that the outcome of one election is the death knell of Socialism."
The Socialist candidate failed to make it to the second round of the French election and Socialist parties have performed poorly in elections across Europe in recent times. The party of former Socialist MEP Martin Schulz, now a candidate in the German national elections later this year, performed surprisingly badly in weekend regional elections in his home state.
Pittella went on, "Socialism is international and not confined to a single member state. Socialism lives on.
"However, we certainly need to breathe fresh life into Socialism and update our response to globalisation. The free market creates losers as well as winners and we have to look at this aspect."