Emmanuel Macron’s win in the French presidential election was welcomed across Europe, with many leaders hailing a victory for the European Union. EURACTIV France reports.
Leaders breathed a sigh a relief when the results of the French elections came in yesterday evening (7 May).
Macron’s large score, with more than 66% of votes, was bigger than polls had predicted, securing a comfortable win for Macron over far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
The young centrist leader, 39, adopted a resolutely pro-European stance during the election campaign, drawing the sympathy of numerous European political figures worried by the rise of right-wing populism in France.
While Le Pen had campaigned for France to withdraw from the eurozone, the Schengen borderless travel zone and, ultimately, from the EU itself, Macron emphasised the benefits of EU membership and committed to follow the bloc’s common rules, including those related to budget deficits.
Macron also showed his determination to relaunch the Franco-German relationship, seen as the engine of Europe, by paying visits to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz, who will face each other in national elections in September.
Compliments started pouring in as soon as the election results were known, with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel among the first to congratulate the new president-elect.
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) May 7, 2017
Matteo Renzi, the former Italian prime minister, said Macron’s election opened “a new page for France and Europe”. Renzi recently launched a party called “In Cammino”, the translation of which mirrors Macron’s own En Marche! (“Onward!”) movement.
Enrico Letta, another ex-Italian prime minister, even made the trip to Paris and the Louvre where the official gathering was held to celebrate Macron’s victory.
— Enrico Letta (@EnricoLetta) May 7, 2017
Perhaps the biggest sigh of relief came from the European institutions.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, put out a statement saying he was “happy that the French people have chosen a European future”.
— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU) May 7, 2017
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the Energy Union, also hailed Macon’s victory, saying: “Today France chose Europe over nationalism”.
— Maroš Šefčovič?? (@MarosSefcovic) May 7, 2017
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, for his part congratulated French voters for having chosen “Freedom, Equality and Fraternity” over “the tyranny of fake news”.
Félicitations à @EmmanuelMacron, aux français qui ont choisi la Liberté, l'Egalité et la Fraternité et dit non à la tyrannie des "fake-news"
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) May 7, 2017
President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani immediately invited President-elect Macron to make a speech in front of the EU plenary.
— EP President Tajani (@EP_President) May 7, 2017
Europe at the centre of national debates
In the wake of Britain’s shock decision to leave the EU last year, the reactions across Europe also underlined the growing importance of European issues in the national political context.
Far-right Eurosceptic or populist parties recently came close to power in countries like Austria, The Netherlands and France but none managed to secure victory, a point highlighted by Martin Selmayr, Juncker’s chief of staff and the Commission president’s closest advisor.
Kick off: Felix Austria ???????????? Quarter final: Stable Netherlands: ???????????? Semi final: La France en marche! ????????????
— Martin Selmayr (@MartinSelmayr) May 7, 2017
— Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) May 7, 2017
— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) May 7, 2017
Pericolo scampato. La Francia ha scelto l'Europa contro la paura. Ora la sinistra ritrovi unità e sintonia con i cittadini. #Macron
— Gianni Pittella (@giannipittella) May 7, 2017
— ECR Group (@ecrgroup) May 7, 2017
I warmly congratulate @EmmanuelMacron on his success and look forward to working with him on a wide range of shared priorities.
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) May 7, 2017