Leaders hail Macron’s European victory

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday welcomed that France had chosen a "European future". [European Commission]

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.

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.

European institutions

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”.

Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the Energy Union, also hailed Macon’s victory, saying: “Today France chose Europe over nationalism”.

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”.

President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani immediately invited President-elect Macron to make a speech in front of the EU plenary.

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.

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