Le Pen wants to 'do away' with EU
By Eric Maurice
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen wants to "do away" with the EU and build a Europe of "free nations" if she is elected French president in May.
"We will build another Europe, whether madame Merkel, monsieur Schulz or the other commissioners want it or not," she said on Thursday (23 February), referring to EU commissioners along with the German chancellor and her opponent in the upcoming elections.
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The National Front leader was speaking to foreign diplomats and journalists in Paris on "the French foreign policy in a multipolar world". She insisted that she did not want to "promote a French or a Western system" or "a universal system," and that she wanted to "engage France in a multipolar world that is respectful of nations".
The starting point of that vision would be to redefine the EU and France's position in the EU.
"It is time to do away with an EU that is tempted by a fusion that destroys the Europe of nations," said Le Pen, adding that the EU was a "bureaucratic monster".
"The European Union is not the solution, it’s the problem," she said, adding that she would try to "start again from scratch" with EU treaties.
She did not say clearly that she would take France out of the EU. But she said that France was "diminished" by the EU and that "no price [is] too high to pay to assure the freedom of the French people".
Last month, she said that she would not completely take France out of the euro, the EU common currency, but that she would create a "national currency" for the people, while a common currency would still be used by states and international companies.
"The foreign policy of France will be decided in Paris, and no alliance, no ally, can speak in its place," she insisted on Thursday, adding that she would take France out of the Nato integrated military command.
This would not be a first, as France was taken out of Nato's highest operational structure by president Charles de Gaulle in 1966 and brought back in only in 2007 by president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Le Pen praised new US president Donald Trump.
She said she "only had reason to rejoice" over Trump's election and welcomed his "realism" and “promotion of a form of intelligent protectionism, of economic patriotism".
She said that Russia was "a decisive element [to] pacify globalisation" and that is had been "mistreated" by the EU. She said she wanted to "tie up" Russia to the EU.
Le Pen's speech was part of an effort to enhance her international profile, a few days after a visit to Beirut where she met the Lebanese president and prime minister.
The far-right leader comes first in voting intentions for the first round of the presidential election in April, while polls indicate that she would be beaten in the run-off in May.
Recent polls indicate however that she's gaining ground in the first round on her two main opponents so far, conservative candidate Francois Fillon and Liberal independent Emmanuel Macron, and that she is coming closer in second round voting intentions.
Prospects of a potential Le Pen win drove French bonds downwards in financial markets earlier this week.
Le Pen winning the French presidency would be a "crazy" thing and would mean "the end of the European project," EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici, a French centre-left politician, warned several times recently.
She has benefited recently from an embezzlement scandal involving Fillon's wife and children and from criticism on Macron's lack of clear programme. However, she has been under fire over the cost of her "national currency" proposal and accusations of fake jobs in the European Parliament.
Olaf, the EU anti-fraud agency, said in a report that Le Pen signed fake jobs contracts to pay her bodyguard and cabinet chief as parliament assistant while they apparently did not work in Brussels, Strasbourg or Luxembourg.
Catherine Griset, the cabinet chief, was charged for embezzlement by French judges on Wednesday.