It was an unusual move in the EU: on Thursday, the social-democratic Prime Ministers of Spain, Portugal and Germany, Sánchez, Costa and Scholz, published a joint op-ed in Le Monde in which they called on French citizens to choose the candidate “who believes that France is stronger in a powerful and autonomous EU,” while they said about far-right candidate Le Pen that “she openly sides with those who attack our freedoms and our democracy.”
Both for her pro-Putin positions, which Macron took aim at in the debate on Wednesday night, and for her plans to gradually exit the EU, Marine Le Pen is dangerous in the eyes of the country’s European partners.
For Macron, Sunday’s vote is “also a referendum on Europe.” The president-candidate went on the offensive on this front: “We can continue to take our place in Europe by making it stronger, or we will make France more fragile by leaving the EU and joining the international of populists.”
Marine Le Pen promised “to go to Brussels to begin the Europe of free nations,” to “remake the EU from within.” Although in the campaign she abandoned the plan to leave the euro that contributed to her defeat in 2017 and said that “Frexit is not in our plans,” the far-right candidate wants to immediately exit the single electricity market, turn her back on Schengen and free movement, drastically reduce the French contribution to the EU, end cooperation with Germany on defense, and hold a referendum on “national preference” that would privilege the hiring of those with French nationality and exclude non-French residents from social allowances and social housing. According to the experts, this would be a “coup d’état” against the Constitution, bypassing Parliament, which would also mean violating EU rules.
Le Pen, who also intends to remove European flags from public buildings, would exert pressure to reduce the powers of the Commission, reducing it to an office that takes notice of the decisions of the states, and no longer intends to accept the decisions of the European Court of Justice. According to the MEP Pascal Canfin (Renew), Le Pen winning would mean “the return to everyone for themselves, the end of solidarity, and the consequences on financial markets will be quick to come: interest rates will rise in the most fragile countries, such as Italy,” as well as France itself.
Undersecretary for European Affairs Clément Beaune said that for Le Pen “Frexit is the hidden goal, a Frexit in small steps.”
In the debate, Macron insisted on the links between Le Pen and Putin, “her banker,” who, in 2017, through a friendly bank, lent the money to finance the Rassemblement National campaign (9 million euros), while for the current one Le Pen turned to a Hungarian bank. In fact, Marine Le Pen’s only true ally is Viktor Orban, with whom she shares the project of destroying the EU from within.
Another issue that has raised comments on Thursday after the debate is that of the environment. Macron made a last-minute environmentalist turn to court the vote of young people and Mélenchon voters. Le Pen called him “a hypocrite,” while the president-candidate called his rival “a climate skeptic,” whose only project is to dismantle existing wind turbines. The environmentalist movements remain highly circumspect about Macron’s turnaround, due to his not particularly impressive record in the fight against global warming in the last 5 years and his choice of reviving nuclear power. They are preparing to put pressure on him through hard-hitting forms of struggle.