Experts say the victory for the far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, will have a major impact on the functioning of the European Union. His coming to power will not only undermine the democratic values and trade rules of the 27-nation bloc, but also threaten sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s war on the EU’s Common Front and Ukraine.
Incumbent President Macron and anti-immigrant nationalist Le Pen, who have strong pro-EU views, cannot have the EU’s radical outlook.
France has always been at the heart of the EU – a founding member, allying itself with neighboring and historical rival Germany, making it a symbol of economic greatness and Western values. It would be very bad to hand over that glorious place to an extreme right wing politician. But, coincidentally, France holds the six-month presidency of the European Union this spring, which also allows it to speak with the authority of 27 people.
It is a pedestal that some want to offer to Le Pen. The leader of the National Rally wants to establish national border controls on imports and people, reduce French participation in the EU budget and stop recognizing that European law is more important than national law.
He proposes to abolish taxes on hundreds of essential commodities and wants to reduce taxes on fuel – which is contrary to EU free market rules.
Although Le Pen has removed Frexit from his platform, his hostility to the EU is still clear. Speaking to French Inter Radio, Le Pen said on Tuesday that “the majority of French people do not like the EU as it is today.” He accused the government of “moving in a completely anti-democratic way, with threats and intimidation”.
He denied allegations by critics that his policies were tantamount to a French exit from the EU in disguise. Instead, he said, the EU could be transformed “from within.”
In contrast, during a stop in the eastern city of Mulhouse, Macron told reporters that he “trusts Europe” and praised EU action that “changed the lives of our fellow citizens” such as the joint purchase of vaccines in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.
He accused Le Pen of speaking “nonsense.”
“He explains that he (EU) will not pay for the club, will change the rules, but only the rules,” Macron said. “That means he wants to leave the EU, but he’s not. He does not dare to say anymore.”
Jean-Claude Peiris, who has served as a legal adviser to the European Council and is an expert in EU institutions, said the victory for Le Pen would have the effect of an “earthquake”.
“He is in favor of state-sponsored economic patriotism, which is against the rules of the single market,” Peiris told the Associated Press. “France will no longer participate in general free trade and trade policies.”
“He wants to change the French constitution by suppressing the right to land and the right to asylum,” Peiris added.
Peiris also said that Le Pen’s visit threatened the 27-member consensus on the sanctions they had so far adopted against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. She can prevent further action being taken. The federation is currently considering the possibility of adding more restrictions to oil imports from Russia.
Le Pen has developed close ties with the Kremlin over the years. In his earlier attempt to become French president in 2017, he called for stronger security ties with Moscow to jointly fight radical Islamist groups. He also promised to recognize Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Ukraine in 2014, as part of Russia.
Le Pen acknowledged that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “somewhat” changed his view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying he was “wrong” and expressed his support for the Ukrainian people and refugees.
Although Le Pen can find allies in one or two right-wing governments currently in power in Eastern Europe, Peiris hopes he will face hostile reactions from other EU members.
A report by the European Reform Center released on Monday shows how Le Pen can better follow the same path as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish Prime Minister Mathews Moravic. Decision making.
“The difference is that France … is essential to the EU,” the statement said, adding that the consequences would be “politically confusing”.
CER experts also believe that Le Pen’s policies contradict the camp’s climate goals. Le Pen is in favor of expanding nuclear power and many NGOs have warned that it will slow the transition toward renewals.
On top of that, the traditional French-German unity would be undermined, as German Socialist President Olaf Scholes was unlikely to reach any compromise with Le Pen.
Jean Azelbourne, the long-time foreign minister of neighboring Luxembourg, called the situation “very, very worrying.”
As president of France, Le Pen said, “An uprising in Europe will not be a mere project of values, a program of peace; it will take us on a completely different path in the essence of the EU.” “The French must stop. That.”
Report from Casert and Petrequin Brussels. Colin Barry in Milan, Italy and Keer Molson in Berlin.