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Macron plans Europe-wide conferences to reinvigorate post-Brexit EU

French president Emmanuel Macron has announced Europe-wide public conferences later this year in an effort to reinvigorate the European Union after the UK leaves.

In a sweeping speech laying out his priorities for his five-year presidency, Mr Macron insisted: "We need a stronger Europe."

He said he understood why many Europeans see the EU as bureaucratic, distant and uncaring.

As a result, he said France and Germany will launch conferences open to everyone in an effort to get citizens more closely involved in EU activities.

He also said European countries should work more closely to help political refugees while fighting migrant smuggling and strengthening borders against illegal migration.

Mr Macron also vowed to lift a state of emergency which has been in place since 2015, while pledging to harden permanent security measures to fight Islamic extremism and other threats.

He insisted on the need to "guarantee full respect for individual liberties" amid concerns that new measures would allow police too many powers.

Speaking at a special parliamentary session in Versailles, Mr Macron promised to "restore the freedoms of the French" in the autumn after nearly two years under a state of emergency.

Mr Macron also pledged tougher new measures to prevent any new attack "without pity ... without weakness".

He spoke two days after authorities charged a young man with plotting a possible attack against the president or minority groups.

Mr Macron also said he wants to speed up the legislative process to better adapt the process to a rapidly changing society.

He said he wants to simplify and accelerate the process of voting laws in both houses, the Senate and the National Assembly.

He proposed that some "simple" bills should be voted in parliament's commissions instead of in plenary sessions.

Mr Macron also wants to reduce the number of seats in parliament - which now stands at 925 - by one third.

The president ordered a strategic review of the French military to respond to evolving threats, and pledged to reinvigorate French diplomacy.

Mr Macron said he would maintain France's military interventions against extremists abroad.

He also insisted on the importance of maintaining "the path of negotiation, of dialogue" for long-term solutions.

Mr Macron said "threats have never been so great" and said countries need to cooperate more than ever.

AP

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