Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

EU relieved by Macron's win

  • Merkel had endorsed Macron prior to the French vote (Photo: Emmanuel Macron/Twitter)

EU leaders have reacted to Emmanuel Macron’s victory with relief and with hope the French result will strike a blow against other nationalist forces.

Macron won by 65 percent on Sunday (7 May) against the nationalist-populist Marine Le Pen, who had campaigned to pull France out of the euro and possibly the EU.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The 39-year old Macron had campaigned on a pro-EU ticket, but also said he wanted to reform the bloc.

EU Council president Donald Tusk congratulated him on Twitter.

Referring to Russia’s efforts to interfere in the French elections, Tusk said: "Congratulations to French people for choosing Liberty, Equality and Fraternity over [the] tyranny of fake news.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker told Macron he was ready to help “build a better Europe”.

"I am delighted that the ideas you defended of a strong and progressive Europe, which protects all its citizens, will be those that you will carry into your presidency in the debate about the history of Europe," Juncker said in a letter to Macron.

He added that he was ready to work with him to change the bloc.

"The European Commission has been working for two and half years to build a better Europe, a Europe which protects and defends our citizens and gives them the means to react,” he said.

The EU saw Macron’s win as a reinforcement of its project.

The French result came amid the start of talks on the UK’s exit from the EU and amid fears that populist movements elsewhere could pull Europe asunder.

The fact that populist Geert Wilders came second in the Dutch election in March had already given succour.

Macron’s win came as a fresh and a bigger blow to anti-EU forces.

With Germany and Sweden also heading for elections, it showed that votes could still be won via a pro-EU campaign.

But with one in three French voters choosing the far-right and with Macron facing another battle, in June, to build a parliamentary majority, it also showed that there was plenty of work left to do for the pro-European side.

Merkel on the phone

German chancellor Angela Merkel has also hailed Macron’s victory.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted: "Congratulations, Emmanuel Macron. Your victory is a victory for a strong and united Europe and for French-German friendship.”

Seibert said that Merkel congratulated Macron in phone call in which she "praised his stance for a united and open European Union during the campaign" and told Macron that "the decision of the French voters is a clear statement of support for Europe”.

Merkel ’s rival in the German elections in September, the former European Parliament president Martin Schulz, has promised to be more pro-European than Merkel on social issues.

He tweeted: "Congratulations, Emmanuel Macron. And now let’s build a stronger Europe together!”

Merkel has been criticised for harsh austerity policies during the euro crisis, but praised for her caution on deeper EU integration and for keeping Europe united.

Her centre-right CDU party also came first on Sunday in a local election in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, with Schulz’s Social Democrats trailing in recent polls.

British prime minister Theresa May also phoned Macron, who is expected to be a tough negotiator in the Brexit talks.

Brexit prelude

They briefly discussed Brexit, according to a statement by the British prime minister's office.

May "reiterated that the UK wants a strong partnership with a secure and prosperous EU once we leave”.

But pro-Brexit campaigner and MEP Nigel Farage highlighted that Le Pen still won a big chunk of the French vote.

“Euroscepticism in France has taken a massive leap forward today”, he said on Twitter.

Macron, during the last phase of the campaign, also warned that unless the EU changed, angry and disillusioned voters would try to drag France out of the bloc.

Macron wins French presidency

[Updated] The centrist pro-EU candidate easily beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, with 66.1 percent of the vote against 33.9 percent.

Interview

Macron's victory could be short-lived

If elected French president, Macron could be crippled by lack of a clear majority in parliament. If Le Pen won, her EU plans would be blocked by EU countries.

Anti-Macron leaks try to sway French election

Thousands of documents, some likely fake, were spread by WikiLeaks as well as pro-Trump and pro-Russia social media in the final moments of the French campaign.

Analysis

Macron, a new Franco-European monarch

The new French president mixed republican pomp and European faith in his victory celebration. But to succeed, he will have to start a revolution.

Interview

EU populists not actually that 'popular', says global activist

"The populists are not popular. It's 14 percent of the vote in Germany and smaller percentages in other countries," says global campaigner Ricken Patel, considering to use his organisation, Avaaz, to raise turnout in next year's European parliament elections.

Opinion

Rutte - from 'Mr No' to 'next Tusk'?

Make no mistake – Rutte, sometimes considered as a potential candidate to succeed Donald Tusk, is one of the toughest of the EU's current heads of state.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us