Michel Barnier issues brutal Frexit warning to Emmanuel Macron: ‘Act before it’s too late’
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Brussels’ former chief negotiator said eurocrats must heed warnings from disgruntled citizens before it’s too late to avoid a catastrophic break-up of the project. He said leaders would soon face “social unrest” if they refuse to listen to the genuine concerns expressed by voters. Mr Barnier said: “We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves. It’s now too late for the UK but not for us.
“Let us ask ourselves why, this figure of 52 percent at the referendum… 52 percent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the Union.”
The Frenchman claimed to have already witnessed similar levels of contempt in the EU in his own country.
He said concerns about migration and the bloc’s external borders were concerns that needed to be addressed.
There is also significant anger over Brussels poor handling of the EU’s snail-paced vaccination rollout.
Mr Barnier added: “There are reasons we can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions… you know, citizens who want to leave the EU.
“They say the EU did not respond to legitimate desire of citizens, there us social unrest or anger, one might say, because there’s no protection of external borders, some people say, immigration for flows are impacting us…
“And Europe is also often criticised for its red tape and complexity.”
His remarks will come as a stark warning for Emmanuel Macron, whose pro-EU approach is under increasing pressure ahead of next year’s election.
The French President faces losing the first round of voting with polling suggesting right-wing Marine Le Pen heading for a victory.
The National Rally leader is Mr Macron’s political rival ahead of the 2020 presidential race.
Ms Le Pen has worked hard to detoxify her image but maintains a number of hardline policies on migration to secure her anti-establishment voter base.
Experts have blamed Mr Macron’s failure to address the coronavirus crisis for the sudden poll surge for his rival.
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Pollster Frederic Dabi, of Ifop, said: “The results reflect Le Pen’s strong dynamic as well as President Emmanuel Macron’s difficulties in the health crisis context.
“Never before, with only one year to go to the ballot, has a National Rally candidate obtained such scores.”
The latest study by Ifop shows that Mr Macron would secure a 54-46 percent victory over Ms Le Pen in the final round of voting.
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But Mr Macron’s top team appear to be in denial, refusing to acknowledge warnings from the likes of Mr Barnier.
Clement Beaune, his European affairs minister, said: “Back in 2016 people thought that this was the beginning of the end for Europe, but we have been able to show that we can be agile, that we can react, that we can be consistent in defending our interests in a firm way to defend the greatest European assets – the single market and our political unity.”
He added: “These are lessons that we must all keep in mind as Europe is facing more difficulties… Europe is being accused of being weak and slow.”
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