French President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled the three core axes - recovery, power, belonging - of France's presidency of the European Union that will take effect on the 1st of January.
After underlining the need for recovery in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the French head of state defended at length the need to embrace Europe, stressing that the "feeling of belonging has withered" in France, as well as in other EU countries.
Speaking on Monday during a debate marking the 25th anniversary of the Jacques Delors Institute, Macron added: "No one is unaware of the public debate in our country at the moment. When things become difficult, we say it is Europe's fault".
As for the need for "power", Macron called for the consolidation of "a Europe that will be able to make its own choices - military, technological, cultural - of values.
"We have provincial debates, where the real issues are to know what we want to become in relation to the Chinese model, the American model," he said.
Vaccine success vs political correctness
He also cited the European vaccination programme as the best example of Europe's effectiveness.
Responding to populist governments and EU critics, Macron was scathing: "You Hungarians, Polish or French nationalists, you would not be vaccinated, or imperfectly.
"Maybe you would have had your Russian friends to give you the Sputnik [vaccine] which is still not approved by the WHO? Good luck!"
"You are only vaccinated with the best vaccines in the world because you are Europeans."
Conversely, Macron said that a Europe that tries to explain what words to say or not to say is not a Europe he totally supports.
He was referring to draft instructions for EU officials to ban expressions like "Christmas time" or "Ladies and Gentlemen" in favour of neutral terms.
The European Commission backed down after a backlash against the proposals.