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The presidential election and Europe, momentum or isolation

On April 24, 48.7 million French people will be called to ballot for the second round of the presidential election. The impact of their vote will not be confined to the limits of France. It will extend to the whole European Union. France indeed assumes a particular role in this singular “federation of nation states” – the formula is from Jacques Delors. It weighs by its size, its population, its economy, its status as a founding member. But above all, it consistently supports the project of an ever closer political union. Most capitals resent this activism, but recognize that many advances would not have been made without it.

→ ANALYSIS. Presidential 2022: Europe, the duel of programs between Macron and Le Pen

As a result, the confrontation between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen gives the election a crucial importance for Europe. Their programs are indeed totally antagonistic on this subject. (1). The outgoing president believes in the articulation of a double sovereignty, that of the States and that of the Union, to allow the countries of the Old Continent to assert themselves collectively in the new world concert of powers. He will fight, if re-elected, for a new European growth strategy that includes joint borrowing and investment. For her part, the candidate of the National Rally sticks to the sovereignist idea of ​​the superiority of the nation over Europe. It defends the primacy of French law over European law. Her economic and ecological proposals are essentially protectionist and would be outvoted by her peers if she were elected. Like most anti-European parties on the continent, it no longer pleads openly for an exit from the Union, but claims to be able to transform it from within. In short, Emmanuel Macron’s victory would give a powerful boost to negotiations aimed at crossing a new threshold in European integration – especially since the new German government also has a long list of proposals. The success of Marine Le Pen, on the contrary, would isolate France and block the EU.

Beyond the program, the sovereignist logic contradicts the philosophy of European construction. After the Second World War, peace in Western Europe was based on a sharing of sovereignty in important economic sectors – coal, steel, atom, agriculture… – and on the creation of a legal order specific to the new organization. This integration makes it possible to limit the power plays which inevitably lead to the law of the strongest. Interdependence discourages every man for himself. It is by defusing aggressive versions of nationalism that the European Union has stabilized the continent and allowed its economic development – ​​without paying enough attention, however, to the rise of inequalities.

→ MAINTENANCE. Enrico Letta: “Macron – Le Pen is an opposition between pro-Europeans and sovereignists”

Today, the various opinion polls show that a growing number of inhabitants of the continent want European cooperation to face the perils that are accumulating – pandemic, climate change, imperialist Russia, expansionist China… In Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Vilnius or Brussels, the leaders are aware of their common responsibility in this tormented period. As for Paris, it is up to French voters to decide.

→ VIDEOS. Presidential, they tell their campaign


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