Will France vote for more or less Europe in the next presidential elections?


Meeting on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – From humiliation and exclusion to participation : eradicate all forms of poverty Copyright: © European Union 2016 Source : EP. Location: Brussels, Belgium. Date: 19/10/2016. Photo: Alexis Haulot.

The citizens of three of the strongest European countries, having in their minds the recent terrorist attacks will have to decide within 2017 who will govern them. Holland will be the first EU member state to hold general elections on March 15 in order to elect all 150 members of the House of Representatives. France will follow on April 23 with the first round of the presidential elections. Germany will be the last country to hold federal elections till October 22.

Moreover, last Tuesday, Emmanuelle Macron,  former Economy Minister and current presidential candidate with the “En Marche!” party, challenged the euro currency in his speech on European policy at Humboldt University in Berlin. The French presidential candidate is steadily gaining popularity in the last polls where he comes third, close after Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front, and the leader of the Republican Party Francois Fillon.

The EU crises

The former Economy Minister during his speech in Berlin referred to the multiple crises that plague Europe currently and put at risk the entire EU project. According to Emmanuelle Macron, the four crises that characterise the European Continent are security, the migration crisis, the economic crisis and the crisis of the entire edifice of the European Union per se.

The rise of Islamic terrorism and the attacks in Europe caused serious concerns about the security and defence within the bloc, something that was once taken for granted. What is more,  the migration crisis, even if it has been tremendously limited after the EU-Turkey deal last March, remains one of the biggest crises in the EU history.

Mr Macron stated that the euro currency needs fundamental reforms since it has failed so far to provide Europe with “full international sovereignty against the dollar on its rules,” and “a natural convergence between the different member states.” The Presidential candidate mentioned that the economic reforms must be drastic, otherwise the European currency will cease to exist in the next 10 years.

More specifically, Emmanuelle Macron said: “The truth is that we must collectively recognize that the euro is incomplete and cannot last without major reforms. The euro is a weak Deutsche Mark. The status quo is synonymous, in 10 years’ time, with the dismantling of the euro.” However, the euro remains a prerequisite for an economically stronger Europe despite the need for fundamental reforms.

Macron promotes French-German cooperation and more investments

It is of high importance that France and Germany cooperate for the greater good of the entire Europe. The French candidate stated also that Germany should be targeting more on real investments and providing financial aid to EU countries such as Greece which is struggling to pay back its loans. Only through such actions, growth will come again to Europe.

Furthermore, it is imperative that France’s confidence is restored with Germany. The latter will be accomplished by implementing reforms in France including labor market and education ones which are necessary to revive the economic growth.

EU in need of more sovereignty and democracy

The ambition of Mr Macron is to have a Europe with more sovereignty and more actual democracy. Emmanuelle Macron made it clear during his speech that the EU is facing major problems and only through these two ideas will the EU revive. Furthermore, the Former Economy Minister mentioned that it is a mistake to leave sovereignty to people with nationalistic views; by that he was tactically targeting at his presidential opponents.

As it seems, the leader of “Le Marche!” is attempting to earn the trust of France and more votes by showing to the French people that he recognizes the fact that Europe is having serious problems and the way out is by implementing measures which boost the European idea of common security policy, fundamental economic reforms, trade policy and a digital single market.

All in all, the speech of Emmanuelle Macron is a clear tack against the European policies which have been unable to deal with migration, security and economic crises. It is quite obvious that the French people have understood it well and it would be pointless for the former Economy Minister to have stated it otherwise.

However, it remains to be seen, in a few months from now, whether France will vote for a bigger EU project or for less Europe with border controls and event without a common currency or policies. France will eventually show if Brexit was just the beginning.


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