Sunday

14th Apr 2024

Barnier keen to run against Macron in French election

  • Michel Barnier has twice been an EU commissioner and held various French ministerial posts in the his long career (Photo: Council of the European Union)
Listen to article

Michel Barnier, the EU's former Brexit negotiator, has said he wants to run in next year's French presidential elections.

"In these grave times, I have taken the decision and have the determination to stand … and be the president of a France that is reconciled, to respect the French, and have France respected," he said in an interview on France's TV1 broadcaster on Thursday (26 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The 70-year old, centre-right politician took aim at president Emmanuel Macron's elitist image, saying France's needed a leader with "strength, vision, but also humility".

"The president must lead, bring people, set a path towards the horizon, but he cannot do everything on his own," Barnier said.

He also promised to be tough on immigration and to reform EU bureaucracy, in an environment in which the xenophobic and eurosceptic far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, is neck-and-neck with Macron in opinion polls.

Barnier pledged to "restore the authority of the state" and to "limit and take control of immigration" with a five-year ban on letting in new people.

He said he would "decarbonise the economy".

And he said that his "extraordinary" experience as Brexit negotiator meant he knew how to work "with the heads of state and government [in the EU] to preserve the unity of all the European countries".

"We are in demanding times. The world around us is dangerous, unstable, fragile. Our country is doing badly," Barnier also said in French newspaper Le Figaro on Friday.

Barnier's Les Republicans (LR) party has not yet decided on its candidate for next April's vote or if it will hold a primary to do so.

The party's Xavier Bertrand, Valerie Pécresse, Bruno Retailleau, and Laurent Wauquiez had also signalled interest in running, but Wauquiez said, on Thursday, that he was bowing out.

A recent poll by Challenges, a financial weekly, said Bertrand would win 16 percent of the vote if he ran for president while Pécresse would get 13 percent.

Macron and Le Pen would get 24 percent each in the first round, the pollsters added, but Macron would defeat Le Pen by 55 percent against 45 percent in the run-off.

"With his [Barnier's] European experience, he is in the best position to see the flaws in the system. We can be pro-European and defend France," Brigitte Kuster, an LR MP, told French newspaper Le Monde on Friday.

"He [Barnier] has the ability to unite and appease a fractured country. Like [president] Joe Biden in the United States, he has the experience, the height of vision, and the international stature that one expects from a French president," Daniel Fasquelle, an LR mayor in the town of Touquet-Paris-Plage in northern France, also said.

EU won't accept UK trade deal 'at any price', Barnier warns

Talks on the future EU-UK trade deal will start next Monday - but tensions are already high over the EU's efforts to stop the UK undercutting the bloc's standards and London's wobbling position on Northern Ireland.

Interview

EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.

Interview

EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us