Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

European right hopes Macron will save France

  • Emmanuel Macron was received by Angela Merkel on 16 March (Photo: Diplomacy)

Not long ago, Francois Fillon was considered the most likely winner of the French presidential election in May.

But after he was charged for embezzlement over suspicions of fake parliamentary jobs for his wife and children, even his European allies seem to have lost hope.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • "The damage is done," an EPP official said about the impact on voters of the charges against Fillon for embezzlement (Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol)

Meanwhile, the fear of seeing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen taking power is growing.

"People are worried, they are wondering what is going on in France," Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party (EPP), told EUobserver on the margins of the EPP congress in Malta this week.

"And it goes further than that. There are already committees, at the highest level, working on the hypothesis that France leaves the euro and the EU," he said.

He declined to specify whether these working groups were in EU capitals or in the EU institutions.

Officials in Brussels have warned about the consequences for France and the EU if Le Pen were to be elected, but have said so far that that they do not want to envisage a Le Pen scenario.

The National Front (FN) leader has said that she wants to "do away with the EU," and has promised to organise a referendum on the country's EU membership.

Her possible election "has been a risk for some time," a high level EU source said recently, pointing to the "explosion" of the two main parties, the Socialist Party (PS) of outgoing president Francois Hollande and Fillon's Republicans.

In the most recent poll published on Wednesday (29 March), Socialist Party (PS) candidate Benoit Hamon was credited with only 10 percent of voting intentions and Fillon with 18 percent. Both were far behind Le Pen (with 24 percent) and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (with 25.5 percent).

'Nothing is predictable'

Most polls put Le Pen ahead in the first round on 23 April. And while Macron is leading in polls for the second round on 7 May, a high number of undecided voters and uncertainties over the turnout make the polls unreliable.

"Nothing is predictable," another top EPP official said in Malta, referring to the risk of seeing some Fillon supporters voting for Le Pen in the second round if their candidate does not qualify.

Fillon, who is campaigning, did not attend the EPP congress and addressed delegates through a very short video message.

"I think it would have done him some good to be with heads of state and governments, because he would have had the EPP support," Daul said.

The EPP counts the heads of the three EU institutions among its members, as well as seven heads of EU states and governments.

Privately, however, delegates suggested that Fillon's chances were over, and some even said he should have withdrawn from the race.

"The damage is done," one party official noted, referring to the impact the charges against the conservative candidate had on voters.

Asked whether Fillon was still a good candidate for his party, the official did not reply verbally but made a hand gesture indicating that he did not believe so.

Hopes that Fillon doesn't win

"We don't see how Fillon can win and some come to hoping he doesn't win," said Alain Lamassoure, who, until last October, was the leader of the French EPP delegation in the European Parliament.

Fillon's friendly position towards Russia and attacks against France's judiciary have shocked some in the EPP.

During its congress, the EPP adopted a resolution against corruption and announced it will soon adopt a code of ethics.

A party source told EUobserver that, although at first the resolution was aimed towards some EPP parties outside the EU, it was considered more urgent due to Fillon's case and that the code of ethics was a direct reaction to it.

With the risk of seeing Le Pen leading the EU's second largest country, many EPP politicians "hope that Macron will win," Lamassoure said, saying publicly what other delegates had expressed privately.

He explained that Macron, who was Hollande's former economy minister, is acceptable to the EPP because "he is European, young, honest and has an economic programme based on social market economy".

"The interest of France's partners is that France is really governed," he said.

Among France's partners is Germany, where chancellor Angela Merkel, an EPP leader, "is looking at what is going on," Daul said. "She is worried because it is not neutral for the Franco-German engine."

Merkel, who received Fillon in Berlin in January, also met with Macron, as well as with Hamon earlier this month.

"I think that Fillon suited Merkel well," the EPP president said, using the past tense to suggest that Merkel, too, would make the best of having Macron in the Elysee palace.

A French translation of this article may be found here.

A German translation of this article may be found here.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

Macron meets Merkel, says France must reform

The independent liberal candidate to the presidential election said in Berlin that France must reform itself if it wants to remain close to Germany and play a role in Europe.

La droite européenne regarde vers Macron pour sauver la France

Avec un François Fillon empêtré sans les affaires judicaires, un des leaders du parti populaire européen affirme que des "commissions" travaillent sur ce que se passerait si Marine Le Pen l'emportait et faisait sortir la France de l'UE.

Europas Konservative hoffen, dass Macron Frankreich rettet

Vor dem Hintergrund des fast sicheren Aus von Fillon bei den anstehenden Wahlen, arbeiten laut eines europäischen Spitzenpolitikers "Arbeitsgruppen" daran, was im Falle zu tun ist das Le Pen siegt und Frankreich aus der EU führt.

Far-right parties re-register to access EU funds

After missing a funding deadline, the far-right nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom and the Alliance of European National Movements are back in the game and possibly eligible for EU money in 2019.

Commission tells Macron to pick political side

A European Commission paper calls on parties to show their colours before the May 2019 parliament elections, and to choose their successor to Juncker before the end of 2018.

News in Brief

  1. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  2. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  3. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  4. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  5. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election
  6. Irregular migration into EU drops to four-year low, says Frontex
  7. Macron's new migrant law faces opposition in parliament
  8. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  2. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  3. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  4. We are not (yet) one people
  5. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  6. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  7. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  8. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  2. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  4. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  5. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  6. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  9. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  11. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  12. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission