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07/12/2016

Macron positions himself as France’s europhile presidential candidate

Elections

Macron positions himself as France’s europhile presidential candidate

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche movement is gaining momentum, but he has yet to officially launch his 2017 presidential campaign. The minister is the only potential presidential candidate to put Europe at the heart of his message. EurActiv France reports.

French Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron gathered his supporters in Paris on Tuesday (13 July) for what looked like an electoral campaign rally. On the verge of throwing his hat into the ring for the 2017 presidential elections, the young minister and former banker is a thorn in the side of the prime minister and is equally criticised by politicians from the right and the left.

“This is the movement of hope that our country needs. Together we will carry it into 2017 and to victory,” Macron said.

The aim of En Marche is to develop a new approach to politics, distancing itself from the established parties, the right and the left, and the traditions of French politics. Campaigners are operating at a grassroots level, going door-to-door and talking directly to citizens, like Barack Obama did in his first presidential campaign. Macron also uses big data to improve the effectiveness of his electoral marketing, as Guillaume Liegey explained to EurActiv.fr in June.

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He is also one of the only presidential candidates to have put the subject of Europe at the heart of his campaign.

Europe is one of Macron’s three priorities, as he said on Tuesday.

The other main themes of his project are more theoretical: they consist of “reconciling the concepts of equality and liberty”, an idea more philosophical than it is political, and ensuring the importance of the notion of solidarity. These concepts come from all over the political spectrum, even if the minister claims to stand on the political left.

But his position on Europe is much clearer: Macron has firmly positioned himself as a Europhile. Politicians from the traditional left and right wing parties are hesitant to even enter this arena, except to criticise Brussels, for fear of losing voters to the National Front.

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Macron is a big supporter of a closer Economic and Monetary Union that allows for fiscal transfers between countries.

In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung last autumn, the minister was clear that the eurozone’s credibility would increase in line with its budget. He also said that eurozone governments should be given the power to “oversee the financial transfers needed when a country is affected by a crisis or to promote the reforms required to minimise differences between economies”.

Macron also told Süddeutsche Zeitung that this eurozone budget should be made up of fiscal resources from member states.

While distancing himself from the current government’s approach to labour market reform, he also expressed his support for the El Khomri labour law.

“The labour law is an important battle, it is an important reform and I believe in it, I support it, but this is no longer […] the struggle today, because work has radically changed,” he said. Many of the minister’s views are more liberal than those of his government colleagues, particularly on the treatment of new forms of work generated by companies like Uber and Airbnb.

Commission backs French labour law reforms

Vladis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue, has welcomed France’s controversial labour law reforms, which directly respond to the EU executive’s criticisms of the French economy. EurActiv France reports.

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There has been no shortage of criticism from both left and right. Bruno Le Maire, a Republican MP, likened Macron’s discourse to “a soup”, while André Chassaigne from the Left Front compared the economy minister to “a digger that goes around destroying things”.

But it is the Prime Minister Manuel Valls, true to a more traditional approach to power and little concerned with Europe, who is the most severe critic of the En Marche leader. According to certain sources, the prime minister even plans to fire Macron from the government.

But while he may be something of a free agent, Macron remains a protégé of President François Hollande, for whom he was an advisor until 2014.