Emmanuel Macron outrage as President will ‘defend EU’ against French constitution demands

Emmanuel Macron 'wants to lead EU project' says Allen

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The French President is in the midst of fighting politicians who have taken to bashing the EU. It comes as France is just months away from a national election, with many officials viewing the supremacy of EU legislation over member states’ constitutions as unjust. The row in France follows a recent Polish court ruling that challenged the legal bedrock of the EU.

It was here that lawmakers rejected the principle of the primacy of EU law over national legislation in certain judicial matters.

The Constitutional Tribunal said some EU treaty articles were incompatible with Poland’s constitution.

Now, strong criticism of the EU and calls for France to assert its national sovereignty have come not just from those on the far-right, as is usually observed, but also from presidential hopefuls who are part of France’s political mainstream.

Mr Macron has been largely quiet on the matter that has found itself at the heart of the country’s discourse.

In 2017, he campaigned and went on to become the country’s youngest ever President while spreading a strong europhile message and promising to create a strong France in a strong Europe.

However, as Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of the Eurasia group said during an analysis piece for Politico, Mr Macron would now “prefer to avoid a messy debate on existential questions about the EU”.

He noted that many have since questioned why the French President — usually the first to assert a strong EU line — has taken a “more pragmatic approach” to the conflict unfolding.

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Mr Macron boasts a good record in European affairs, including pushing through, alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a €750billion (£629billion) plan for member states to rebuild their economies after the coronavirus pandemic last year.

But the Polish court matter threatens to reopen an old argument in France, recalling hints of what set the agenda of the UK’s eventual departure from the EU in 2016: national sovereignty.

French politicians have since lined up to bash the EU, including Valérie Pécresse, leader of the Paris region, who is campaigning to be the presidential candidate of the conservative Les Républicains party in next April’s election.

Speaking last month, she told journalists: “Europe is a Europe of nations.

“That means that our constitutional laws, our constitutional identity, each one, each sovereign state, must take precedence over European jurisdiction.”

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Former Socialist Party government minister Arnaud Montebourg, another presidential hopeful, hailed the Polish ruling: “Poland’s affirmation of its national sovereignty through the law is an important event.

“France, which doesn’t share Poland’s political leanings, will nevertheless have to carry out the same affirmation of the superiority of its laws over European decisions.”

Senior French officials have reportedly claimed that Mr Macron has listened to his colleagues’ rhetoric with alarm.

Some have even gone as far as to claim that Mr Macron is ready to defend the EU in light of France’s reawakening constitutional debate.

Mr Rahman noted: “They [French officials] say that he is prepared to defend EU ‘first principles’ if necessary.

“He is ready to make the argument that the EU single market would collapse — with calamitous consequences for France — if each country was able to impose its own laws or if, as in Poland’s case, the rule of law itself was eroded.”

Mr Rahman added that Mr Macron is “ready” to make the case that EU law is not “imposed” on France, and will instead say it is agreed democratically by governments in the European Council and directly elected members of the European Parliament.

However, officials also say that Mr Macron is keen not to be framed as slavishly pro-European and pro-Brussels.

Around 45 percent of the electorate are currently thought to be gunning for parties in next year’s elections that are eurosceptic or have anti-European candidates, both on the far-right and hard left.

Mr Macron appears to be navigating the political turmoil with one hand tied behind his back.

For the first half of next year, France takes on the rotating Council of EU presidency.

This is during the months that his political campaign will be well underway.

As a result of the EU presidency, he may be forced into leading negotiations with Warsaw over the court ruling in the weeks leading up to the French vote.

This could provide his mainstream opponents with political ammunition in what is set to be a close presidential race.

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