In the same way, in a few years’ time the UK will be able to find its place, if it wishes, in this EU refocused on uncompromising values and an effective market. This is why you haven’t heard me talking about Brexit this afternoon. The discussions under way will not define Europe’s future. But in this revamped, simplified European Union that I propose, I cannot imagine that the UK would be unable to find its place.

If we can accept this demanding enlargement, it is also because the European Union’s stronger foundation will allow greater forms of differentiation. And I take full responsibility for this philosophy. Europe is already moving at several speeds, so we should not be afraid to say so and want it! It’s because those who go faster no longer dare to forge ahead that the very essence of this ambition has been lost, that the others watched them move forward and ended up saying, “being in the vanguard of Europe doesn’t look that good, they dare not even meet, propose or move forward anymore.”

No, let’s embrace the differentiations, the vanguard, the heart of Europe I was talking about earlier. We’ve got to make progress on all our major challenges, quickening the pace and setting our sights higher. No State must be excluded from the process, but no country must be able to block those wanting to make faster progress or forge further ahead.

Let me say, going back to what Mario Monti and Sylvie Goulard proposed a few years ago: the idea that whoever wants the least can block the others is a heresy. We must accept these many differences and, as at every key moment in its history, Europe will move forward first of all through the determination of a few. This ambition is never a source of exclusion, it is the seed of European unity and sovereignty.

The time when France took decisions for Europe never existed, except in the fantasy world of a few misguided nationalists. The time when France “sought” to take decisions for Europe may have existed; but that is not what I want to do. But the time when France makes proposals in order to move forward with Europe and every European who so wishes — that time has returned, and I’m thinking right now of Robert Schuman who, in Paris on 9 May 1950, was bold enough to propose building Europe. I remember his powerful words: ‘A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.’”

So today, I take responsibility for making proposals, forging further ahead, being bold enough to talk about Europe and finding words of affection and ambition for it again. Not imposing, forcing or seeking to reinvent everything — many things have already been said — but taking the risk of proposing a coherent, ambitious vision, proposing a way forward, an objective, rather than discussing instruments, and taking the vital risk of proposing initiatives.

Two days after our main partner’s elections I want again to congratulate Federal Chancellor Merkel, whom I look forward to going on working with because we share the same European commitment, and I know her commitment to Europe. I also know how upset she is to see nationalist, hateful discourse winning so many votes. But I know that her response will be to adopt neither an inward-looking nor a timid approach. I know that, like each time her country has faced historic challenges, she will have the same reaction: boldness and a sense of history. And that’s what I suggest to her.