French candidate Hidalgo ‘profoundly’ pro-European

For the Socialist candidate, the health crisis marks a turning point. It is now urgent to "regain the trust of citizens" in the institutions of the old continent. [Esther Snippe, EURACTIV/Shutterstock]

This article is part of our special report French presidential election: Where does Europe fit into all this?.

Anne Hidalgo, candidate for the Socialist Party in the French presidential elections, unveiled her programme on 13 January. As opposed to the populists in the race, her ambitious proposals all assert the primacy of EU law. EURACTIV France reports.

“Our only real tool is the strengthening and autonomy of the European Union,” Hidalgo wrote in an article published in the magazine Le Grand Continent last December.

A month later, when the Franco-Spanish candidate unveiled her programme in Paris, she again insisted on her attachment and commitment to Europe. Her proposals are based on three main themes: the environment, economy, and social issues.

“Anne Hidalgo is putting forward a deeply European candidacy in the context of a French presidency,” MEP Sylvie Guillaume of the centre-left S&D group, who was contacted by EURACTIV France, also confirmed. Guillaume added that she had the feeling “that the candidate was listening to us and assuming her European ambition”.

For the Socialist candidate, the health crisis marks a turning point. It is now urgent to “regain the trust of citizens” in the institutions of the old continent, she said. Her strategy is clear: making the EU an European and national sovereignty instrument.

“Anne Hidalgo is not taking refuge in a debate limited to national borders; she knows that the stakes are also at European level”, said Guillaume, who contributed to developing the proposals on Europe in Hidalgo’s programme.

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Carbon neutrality, ‘green’ VAT and minimum wages

Environmental issues dominate and influence the rest of the proposals, especially economic and social proposals.

To meet the EU’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, the candidate wants “a rapid and ambitious implementation” of carbon adjustment at the borders. She also believes that the key to ecological transition hinges on climate diplomacy and the green economy.

Regarding the economy, Hidalgo wants to facilitate the adoption of a reduced VAT on so-called green products and tax energy groups to finance “support for renewable energies” and “the purchasing power of the middle and working classes”.

Disappointed by France’s inaction following the 2015 Paris agreement in the face of what she calls “climate diplomacy”, the PS candidate wishes to organise a new summit in 2025 -the “Paris+10”, to reaffirm France and Europe’s role in the fight against global warming.

Hidalgo aims to bring a “new agenda” negotiated with European trade unions and employers’ organisations with the social chapter. The chapter also includes an EU minimum wage, gender equality and the protection of platform workers and precarious workers.

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Towards EU autonomy 

The other major themes that run through Hidalgo’s campaign are restoring the EU’s image by moving towards more democracy and accelerating the continent’s autonomy, particularly on health.

The socialist candidate also welcomed the EU strategy on vaccine production and the supply of medical devices and medicines, but was clear about the shortcomings in the supply of these products and called for the lifting of patents on vaccines.

To combat these shortages, it will be necessary to modify “the rules in force on state aid and competition law, and thus allow rapid, massive, coordinated public and private investment”, she writes in her column in Le Grand Continent.

European autonomy will also reconquer the industry, in particular, to “regulate the erratic evolution of prices linked to the bottlenecks of international trade”, she wrote.

For a more democratic Europe, Hidalgo has also proposed the European Parliament has the final say on adopting laws by bypassing the Council’s objection as long as there is a qualified majority of two-thirds.

But is Hidalgo’s vast and ambitious programme for Europe feasible?

“In terms of budget, the answer is yes,” according to Guillaume, who believes the problem lies elsewhere: the implementation of the programme depends above all on “the way in which the other European leaders will position themselves,” she stresses.

However, the candidate remains “aware” that if she becomes president, her European programme will require “negotiations in the medium to long term”, concludes Guillaume.

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[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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