French left-wing and environmentalist MEPs have decided not to attend a meeting organised by the French government. They are refusing to support its call for an “équipe de France” in the European Parliament as it would mean siding with MEPs of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement national. EURACTIV France reports.
The French government’s call to the 79 newly elected MEPs to ‘play as a team’ has not been accepted.
French left-wing and environmentalist MEPs have declined an invitation from Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Secretary of State for European Affairs Amélie de Montchalin to discuss France’s ‘priorities’ at the European level.
“It is necessary for us to create a French team with all those who are ready to work for France, for us to be able to work together on a certain number of priorities that we share,” the French secretary of state argued.
But the government’s stated objective of creating an “équipe de France in the European Parliament” did not convince them.
“We will not score an own-goal against our side in the European Parliament, where we sit as a political group. The members of the delegation belong to the team on the left that wants to change the European Union,” Sylvie Guillaume, chairwoman of the joint list between French Socialist Party (PS) and Place Publique, told EURACTIV.
Coordinating work between European parliamentarians and the various services of the French government in charge of Europe is an established practice.
But the call to join forces behind priorities set by the French government has upset MEPs from other political families. The same goes for the invitation sent to the 24 MEPs of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, who will be attending the meeting on Friday (7 June).
None of the MEPs from the PS/Place Publique list will be attending the meeting, with the exception of Sylvie Guillaume, who should act as an emissary. “I do not see the convening of such a meeting by the government to be something positive,” Guillaume said.
Left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI), will also adopt the empty-chair policy as none of their MEPs will be attending the meeting organised by the French prime minister.
“Our European delegation will not attend the government’s invitation on Friday. As we are committed to fulfilling the promises made to our voters, we will not accept any of their instructions on the positions to take in the next five years of our mandate,” said Manon Aubry, who leads the party’s list.
Among the Greens, the invitation was also declined by thirteen MEPs, despite Amélie de Montchalin’s clear hints at compromise.
“Among the European Greens, there are MEPs who are accustomed to building coalitions and reaching compromises. That is how the German Greens operate,” she said in an interview with France 3, adding she would be delighted to work with Yannick Jadot from the Green party Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV).
In addition to the elected representatives of la République en Marche (LREM), only MEPs of Rassemblement National and a handful of the elected representatives of right-wing party Les Républicains – including Geoffroy Didier – will, therefore, be meeting with the French government in Matignon.
A bad start for MEPs from the LREM camp, who are counting on a broad coalition with the left and the Greens in the European Parliament.
“This meeting comes much too early, some groups in the European Parliament are not even formed. Today we are only negotiating the roadmap,” said EELV MEP Karima Delli.
No room for compromise with the far-right
The top candidate of the PS/Place Publique list, Raphaël Glucksmann, also denounced the organisation of the meeting by the government on Twitter, criticising the invitation of MEPs from Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National.
“I cannot be part of any ‘team’ that includes the Rassemblement National. I feel closer to a Spanish socialist than I do to a French nationalist,” he said on Twitter.
Karima Delli also confirmed that “the term équipe de France is a poorly chosen as we are not the Rassemblement National’s teammates”.
“Moreover, as MEPs, we are here to serve all Europeans, not the priorities of the French government,” she added.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]