Thursday

14th Dec 2017

French candidates clash on EU visions

  • Far right leader Marine Le Pen found more radical than her and was accused of saying the same lies as her father. (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Candidates in the French presidential elections displayed competing visions for the EU in a TV debate on Tuesday (4 April), with far-right leader Marine Le Pen coming under fire.

After a debate between the five main candidates last month, in which Europe was barely mentioned, the 11 candidates for the election's first round on 23 April joined the TV event on Tuesday.

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.

  • Macron wants to refom the EU "in a consructive dialogue" but says he is not "naive". (Photo: OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS)

The debate included two Trotskyists, a centrist MP who is also a shepherd, a sovereignist, and two anti-EU candidates.

One of them, Francois Asselineau, said he was the "only true candidate for Frexit", the word coined to refer to a French EU exit.

"EU treaties lock us in a social and economic policy that crush the French people," said Asselineau, the leader of the nationalist Popular Republican Union.

His proposition was to trigger the EU's Article 50 to start exit talks as soon as he is elected, which proved too radical even for Le Pen.

The National Front leader told Asselineau he was proposing "a brutal exit".

"The difference between you and me is that I want the French people to decide," she said, explaining that she would first negotiate new terms for France and the EU before organising a referendum.

"I want the French people to decide after negotiations, whatever their results," she said, adding that she would respect the result even if voters decided to stay in the EU.

Le Pen would also want France to leave the euro and to create a parallel national currency.

Francois Fillon, the conservative candidate, said "Le Pen's economic policy will collapse as soon as the French people decide to keep the European currency".

Fillon, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under president Nicolas Sarkozy, said that he wanted a "sovereign France in a sovereign Europe".

"We need Europe," in terms of global competition, he said.

He went on to say that the EU needed to build “a European currency that becomes international, in order to break the dollar's domination and the future domination of the Chinese currency.”

"This is a priority for Europe's sovereignty," he added, also referring to the need to protect the EU's external borders.

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, who is neck-and-neck with Le Pen in opinion polls for the first round, also slammed Le Pen’s EU plans.

"What you propose is economic war," Macron, a former economy minister under outgoing president Francois Hollande, told Le Pen.

He said that leaving the euro would slash "savers' and workers' spending power" and destroy jobs in France.

"What you are proposing is nationalism," he also told Le Pen. He said he came from "a region full of cemeteries" - the Somme where one of the First World War's main battles was fought - and that "we have to know where we come from".

"Nationalism is war," he added.

Tit for tat

Le Pen said Macron pretended to be modern, but was "talking like fossils that are at least 50 years old".

"You repeat lies we've heard for 40 years, that we heard already from your father," Macron retorted.

He also said that he wanted to reform the EU "in a constructive dialogue" with Germany and other partners, but dismissed charges that he was "naive".

Hamon, the Socialist candidate, said he was among those who "bet on the European project", as opposed to those who want to abandon it.

He argued that the EU could not continue with austerity policies and that he wanted "the democratisation of the eurozone”.

"I believe that Germany will not be deaf to that demand," he added.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, Hamon's main contender for the leftist vote, defended his "plan A" for a "concerted exit" from the EU treaties, and said that if that was not possible, his "plan B" would be to unilaterally leave the EU

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a right-wing sovereignist, said he wanted to abolish the EU's posted workers directive "on the first day" after his election.

"It's unacceptable that people come from Romania, Poland or Spain and don't pay social charges when our craftsmen, our independent workers pay them," he said.

Le Pen said she had "not voted for the text" in the European Parliament, but did not specify that she had only abstained from the vote.

"I don’t want this directive, even if we respect the law," she said, adding that "I find it deeply unjust because it creates a foreign priority on jobs".

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.

European right hopes Macron will save France

With Fillion all-but out of the election, a senior European politician said "committees" are working on what to do if Le Pen wins and takes France out of the EU.

Le Pen wants to 'do away' with EU

The far-right presidential candidate said that she would create a "Europe of free nations", while taking France out of Nato command and "tie up" Russia to Europe.

French campaign ends in uncertainty and fear

Several presidential candidates cancelled their last meetings after a policeman was killed in an attack on Paris’s Champs Elysees. Pollsters say the race will be very tight on Sunday.

Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit

Snap elections are on the horizon in Ireland over the future of Irish PM's right-hand woman, three weeks before Irish PM is due in Brussels for a crucial Brexit vote.

EU glyphosate vote hits German coalition

Chancellor Merkel disowned her agriculture minister over his decision to back a renewal of the weedkiller's licence as the issue pits Social Democrats against Christian Democrats ahead of coalition talks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  2. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  3. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  4. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  5. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  6. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  7. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short
  8. Brits in EU-27 are uncertain, alone and far from protected

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives