President Emmanuel Macron Wednesday said France "cannot host everyone," intensifying his tough rhetoric on migration. Macron last week signaled a harder line on immigration in the second half of his mandate, arguing the government must stop voters drifting to the far-right. "France cannot host everyone if it wants to host people well," Macron told Europe 1 in an interview from the United Nations in New York where he is attending the annual U.N. General Assembly.
Macron noted France had seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum since the 2017 presidential election and said much tighter European cooperation was needed. "There is not enough cooperation in Europe and we need to look at this migratory phenomenon and take decisions," he said.
Macron's comments come as the French parliament is set for a major debate on migration policy next week. During his election campaign in 2017, the president outlined his plans to address the feeling of "cultural insecurity," felt by the French working classes confronted with an influx of migrants, which had made them prey to the populist rhetoric of the leader of the far-right National Rally, Marine Le Pen. The French president, whose first term expires in 2022, is keenly aware that his biggest political rival remains Le Pen and her far-right party, which has built its popularity on a strong anti-immigration stance. Critics and opposition members see Macron's move as reaching out to right-wing voters ahead of next year's 2020 municipal elections and the 2022 presidential vote.