Friday

18th Oct 2019

Feature

Le Pen warns against pushing Russia 'into arms of China'

  • 'The EU is the world's village idiot', Le Pen said in Copenhagen, referring to Europe's free trade policies, open markets and borders (Photo: Lisbeth Kirk)

French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, has shelved 'Frexit' plans to leave the European Union and she no longer wants France to quit the euro.

The party has also 'gone green' in new bid to win wider mainstream support.

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These revised policies first appeared in Le Pen's National Rally (formerly known as the National Front when it was led by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen) party's political election manifesto for the European Parliament elections in May, which was unveiled earlier this month.

But has Le Pen really become a green pro-European?

To find out EUobserver listened in when she made a pit stop in Copenhagen on Friday (26 April) as part of a larger campaign tour of European capitals.

Le Pen confirmed it was her first visit to the country, where the Danish People's Party had given an invitation for her to speak in the parliament's foreign policy committee.

"I have no habit of visiting anyone without an invitation, and I have not been invited before," she explained.

The Danish People's party plans to team up with Le Pen in a new large political group in the European Parliament following the May elections.

Both parties eye a chance to change the European Union from within, instead of leaving it per se - as the UK is poised to do.

"We want to engage in building a new Europe, an alliance of the nations", Le Pen declared and said that the EU would collapse unless its current structures are changed and a new Europe 'a la carte' formed instead.

The European Commission should be stripped of its current powers, and transformed into a secretariat for the council, as part of the plan, she said.

De Gaulle version 2:0

Le Pen's policy appears to be almost a copy-paste of former French president Charles De Gaulle's vision of a Europe of the nations, that preserves national sovereignty while defending Europe's position in the world, in particular vis-a-vis America.

De Gaulle went so far as to veto the first British applications for EU membership, partly because he saw Britain as a 'Trojan horse' for the US.

He also withdraw France from Nato's integrated military command.

Today, American ties to Europe have been weakened since Donald Trump entered the White House as president in 2017, and transatlantic relations risk diluting even further in future with the UK leaving the European Union.

This new situation has left the gate open for Le Pen to formulate a new European geo-political strategy.

"We have not had transatlantic relations on the agenda for discussion for 60 years," Le Pen reminded her audience in Copenhagen.

She said her vision is of a future multipolar world, where Europe is the third world power between China and the US.

Asked by EUobserver what role Russia ought to play in such a future multipolar world, Le Pen said, that "the question ought not to be what role Russia should play. Russia already plays a role. It is a great world power".

"When facing growing tension between the US and Russia, the question is if Europe and the nations it comprises, are saying something or says nothing. Is it [Europe] able to defend its interests, or is it not able to defend its interests?" she said.

"We should ask ourselves if making war against Russia is contributing anything positive for our European countries? In reality it would weaken our European countries, because by pushing Russia into the arms of China, we would create a gigantic entity that we have probably not understood the consequences of," she told EUobserver.

Hard-right Green?

Le Pen is not only looking for a new strategy in the absence of close transatlantic relations, however.

In times of climate change, Le Pen has also formulated a new 'hard-right green' policy - one that opposes globalism and replaces it with a form of localism.

It is not acceptable that products coming from far away are cheaper than things produced closer because people's salaries, the environment and social dignity are not being respected, she said.

Someone "who is rooted in their home is an ecologist", she said, whereas those who are "nomadic just drinks the water, cuts the crop and leaves again."

"Bio-diversity for plants and animals are essential, as well as diversity in societies and in human culture are important," she said about her policy of localism.

Le Pen said rules are needed to regulate globalism and that "protectionism would be progress" in the current situation.

"I find that the European Union adhere to a totally naive and outdated multilateralism," she said.

"The EU is the world's 'village idiot'", she said in Copenhagen, with reference to Europe's free trade policies, open markets and borders.

"I don't agree with everything that Donald Trump says, but here he has showed the way".

Interview

Russia divides Europe's eurosceptic parties

Divisions on how to handle Russia's "neo-imperial appetite", among other factors, are set to block Italian Matteo Salvini's dreams of a new EU league, Jan Zahradil, a leading Czech MEP and a candidate for EU commission president has said.

Opinion

EU's internal dynamics must be part of 'China' debate

Europe has to come to grips with the fact that the balance of opportunities and challenges presented by China differs profoundly between EU member states, be that Greece, Italy, Luxembourg or Germany.

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