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Anti or Pro-EU - The French Choice

On April 24, media projections from the first round of voting in the French Presidential election put Emmanuel Macron (En Marche!) and Marine Le Pen (Front National) into the second round. As to who was in first or second place that would have to wait until official results were released a day later. What is clear, though, is that French voters are now faced with a stark choice between a pro and anti-EU vision for the future on May 7th. Let us take a brief look at what the two candidates have had to say about the EU and how they react to the EU.


1. Macron - happy to hold aloft the EU flag during the campaign; support for a ‘multi-speed’ EU; support for transnational lists for the European elections (where a limited number of seats in the European Parliament are elected by a pan-European electorate); and support for greater solidarity amongst EU member states i.e. an end to the spectacle where national leaders agree to things during meetings of the European Council and then return home to their national capitals blaming the EU.


“The French-German axis is the core of the reactor, both in the eurozone and the EU. It is a pre-requisite for any progress,” he said. “I propose to restore the credibility of France in the eyes of Germany, to convince Berlin in the next six months to adopt an active investment policy and move towards greater solidarity in Europe. We need it because the future of Europe is at stake.”

“Since 2008 we have failed to build Europe. Since 2008 we have had a lost generation that has seen only a vacuum of plans. Our duty is to rebuild the European dream,” Macron added, stressing the need for a multi-speed Europe.’ [‘Macron outline plans for multi-speed Europe’, EurActiv, March 3, 2017. https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/macron-outlines-plans-for-multi-speed-europe/]


2. Le Pen – determined to ensure that the EU flag is not part of her backdrop, a constant emphasis on the national dimension and a belief that the European project is dead and buried.  


"The European Union will die because the people do not want it anymore ... arrogant and hegemonic empires are destined to perish," Le Pen said to loud cheers and applause. "The time has come to defeat globalists," she said, accusing her main rivals, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon, of "treason" for their pro-EU, pro-market policies.’ Quoted in Reuters ‘France’s Le Pen says EU will die , globalist will be defeated’, Reuters, March 27, 2017. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-le-pen-euro-idUSKBN16X0FO


As for the next step, will the electoral base of Francois Fillon (Les Républicains) follow his appeal to vote Macron? Will Hamon’s (Parti socialiste) supporters follow his call to vote Macron? Where will the Melenchon’s (La France insoumise) voters, given that he did not endorse any candidate, go? Two weeks of excitement and uncertainty await despite all of the polls pointing to a Macron win in a two-horse race with Le Pen.

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Keep holding your breath...

After today's announcement by the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, to pursue a second Scottish independence referendum (Indyref2) all of the speculation surrounding the triggering of Article 50 on Tuesday (14th March) have been extinguished. Now the smart money is on the last week of March. The bill for triggering Article 50 passed through the House of Commons tonight (after the amendments proposed by the House of Lords were defeated) and will recieve Royal Assent (i.e. become law) tomorrow. The fact that Parliament gave the prime minister the mandate to trigger Article 50 fulfills the requirement of the Supreme Court.

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Brexit begins...?

Speculation is mounting that the UK government will finally announce the formal triggering of Article 50 next week. Expect a great deal of turbulence, brinkmanship and countless reams of newspaper column inches.

administer * - * 04:30 * comments(0) * trackbacks(0) * pookmark

'A week is a long time in politics' H. Wilson

Harold Wilson a former UK prime minister is reputed to have said 'a week is a long time in politics'. Events in the European Parliament, surrounding Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, in early January would certainty appear to bare witness to the resonance of those words. At the beginning of January, as the leader of the European Liberals within the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, was behind an unsuccessful attempt to bring the Italian Five Star Movement into the ALDE parliamentary group. An attempt that surprised many and seemingly damaged his attempts to become President of the European Parliament (EP) shortly after. However, during the electoral process for EP Presidency Verhofstadt was at the centre of a surprise deal between the Liberals and the EPP which helped to secure victory for the EPP candidate Antonio Tajani. The deal heralded the need for a 'pro-European coalition' to start the fightback against the nationalists and populists that wish 'to destroy the Union from within and from outside'. It went on to state that the EPP and the ALDE '...have decided to work closely together and to offer a common platform as a starting point for this pro-European cooperation'.

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ALDE Party logo

During its party congress held in Warsaw last week (Dec. 1-3), ALDE-Party published its new party logo. Check out the new logo here.

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PES Website

The PES finally got round to updating its rather poor website last week. It might now be worth a visit.

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UK's 73 European parliamentary seats should be become a transnational list

The idea of a transnational list for the European Parliament elections has been doing the rounds for many years but will the UK's departure from the EU finally offer the chance to turn this idea into a reality. The former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron certainly thinks it would be a good idea. Andrew Duff - a long standing proponent of the idea must be very happy to hear that it has once again entered mainstream debate.

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In the wake of the BREXIT vote of the UK electorate, the PES (Party of European Socialists) released a roadmap document on July 7th entitled: A New Agenda for Europe 2016-2019. Under the sub-heading of a ‘More Democratic Europe’ the PES reiterated their support for the Spitzenkandidaten process.


‘We want to not only continue with this process in 2019, but strengthen it through new elements that will encourage a bigger turnout in the European elections. We want this process to be fully inclusive, transparent and democratic. We will further pursue the ambition of democratisation and politicisation of the European Union’s debate. And we will explore new proposals leading to further coherence within European electoral law.’


How the rhetoric is turned into a process, designed to choose their common candidate for presidency of the European Commission in 2019, remains to be seen...


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Although it is still three years away, a certain amount of 'noise' both for and against the use of the Spitzenkandidaten process for selecting the President of the European Commission seems to be gathering steam. Supporters of the process, for example, have already established a Twitter# which can be found here. It was the British and Hungarian governments that formally objected to the way that the Commission President was annointed in 2014. In addition, all three main UK political parties - at that time - Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals failed to back either the process or the candidate that their corresponding Europarty selected. In the wake of BREXIT, I wonder where the main opposition is going to come from this time round? 

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Improper use of Europarty funds

It appears from recent news reports that funds that were allocated to the Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (MELD – officially recognized as a Europarty from 2012-2015 until its dissolution) and its corresponding Europarty think-tank – the Foundation for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy (FELD) – contravened the rules about the use of such resources.

According to the EUObserver, which ran the story under the headline ‘Danish far-right MEP ordered to return €400,000’

‘Danish nationalist MEP Morten Messerschmidt has been ordered to repay over €400,000 to the European Parliament. The move follows a unanimous decision on Monday (9 May) by the parliament's bureau, a body that oversees the assembly’s work. A 13-page internal report, seen by this website, accuses Messerschmidt's anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Danish Peoples Party of mismanaging parliament grants. But Messerschmidt, who is the party’s outspoken leader, has denied any wrongdoing and says the demand for a refund is politically motivated.’
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