French Presidential Elections: What Le Pen’s Victory Could Mean for EU & France Relations?

Frenchmen are anticipated to elect their head of the state on Sunday, April 24, and two strong candidatures are Marine Le Pen, from the National Rally, and current President, Emmanuel Macron.

However, these two candidates represent two different programs, with the one from far-right candidate Le Pen being different and not aligning with several EU laws and policies, reports.

According to the Guardian, Le Pen’s potential presidency anticipates a real danger of Frexit – a French exit from the EU, just like the United Kingdom did last year, as many of her final policy proposals openly contradict the obligations of the EU membership.

“Le Pen’s EU policy is: ‘We’re going to stay in the bus but drive it off a cliff,’” Mujtaba Rahman, the Europe director of Eurasia Group consultancy, told the Guardian, pointing out that such a situation would destroy EU from the inside and represents a higher inconvenience than Brexit.

Furthermore, Le Pen’s victory has been considered a “major shock on a bigger scale than Trump was for the United States or Brexit for the UK.”

A major red flag of Le Pen’s plans includes the early referendum on a proposed law on “citizenship, identity and immigration” that would adjust the constitution to allow a “national priority” for French citizens for employment, social security benefits, and public housing – which contradicts EU values and free movement rules.

Moreover, the aim is for France to benefit by picking and choosing EU legislation that best fits its interest, which was a deal-breaker for the bloc even during the Brexit negotiations with the UK.

“As soon as you affirm the primacy of national law, you have no European law. Marine Le Pen has rejected an official exit, but her programme is not compatible with continued French membership of the EU,” Jean-Louis Bourlanges, a centrist MP and president of the French parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said, calling the referendum, which intends to apply national primacy law not only in immigration but every other area.

In addition, the far-right candidate aims to modify border controls on imports and people – further neglecting EU and Schengen rules and cutting France’s contribution to the EU budget despite the Union’s financial framework for the next five years being already approved and effective.

Sources from the EU also express their concern for the other EU Member States such as Poland and Hungary, saying that Le Pen’s victory could boost national-conservative governments, which could challenge the EU’s authority. Moreover, for EU experts, Le Pen becoming a French president could risk an empty seat at EU gatherings, recalling 1965 when French president Charles de Gaulle refused to attend those for five years in a row due to disagreements for the budget.

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