The French Minister for European Affairs already crosses swords on a regular basis with the far-right Rassemblement National and its fake news. This could prove useful practice for the upcoming election campaign. EURACTIV France reports.
Faced with Marine Le Pen at the French National Assembly’s foreign affairs committee, French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau calmly confronted inaccuracies by the Rassemblement National (RN) leader.
The sequence from 12 February is worth a watch, almost acting as a trial run for the European elections, with En Marche getting ready to act patiently and calmly when faced with the far-right’s repeated lies.
At a question and answer session dedicated to the Treaty of Aachen between France and Germany, Le Pen again criticised “a treaty of totalitarian inspiration” which “envisages sharing France’s seat at the UN Security Council”, prompting a reply from Loiseau.
“Ms Le Pen, repeating a lie doesn’t make it true. There’s never been any question of sharing our seat at the UN Security Council. However, we’ll continue to push, as we’ve been doing so for several years, for Germany to obtain its own seat,” Loiseau tweeted.
Mme Le Pen, répéter un mensonge n’en fait pas une vérité. Il n’a jamais été question de partager notre siège au Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU. En revanche, nous continuerons de plaider, comme nous le faisons depuis plusieurs années, pour que l’Allemagne obtienne son propre siège. pic.twitter.com/tmAgVeopfl
— Nathalie Loiseau (@NathalieLoiseau) February 12, 2019
Main focus, criticising far-right’s fake news
“France’s position is to support Germany’s intention to obtain its own seat,” the minister calmly repeated, accusing the RN leader of “embroidering fables around legislation.”
Le Pen accused the treaty of wanting to impose German as the administrative language, with its use even in court decisions. She added that if you “coordinate a policy with another country, this means that your autonomy is shared.”
At the signing of the text of the bill on the election of MEPs at the French Senate, the minister again came under heavy fire from the RN regarding the European institutions.
Senator Jean-Louis Masson took aim at the lack of representativeness in how seats at the European Parliament are allocated. He believed that the difference in representation between small and large states was too great to comply with the Treaty of Lisbon.
Minister Loiseau is already familiar with the far-right’s rhetoric and deconstructing such arguments has become a speciality of hers.
Targeting the right
This is quite convenient, given that the centrist La République En Marche (LREM) has made the right-wing its only target for the European elections.
“RN no longer wants to leave the EU or abandon the euro because [French] citizens are attached to them. These ideas don’t make sense and we have to demonstrate this,” said a source from the ruling party.
In contrast, Emmanuel Macron’s party sees little danger from a very fragmented French left. Instead, it wants to eat away at voters from the traditional right-wing, while also limiting the far-right’s advance.
While some polls give the conservative Les Républicains party 12% of the vote, LREM’s objective would be to contain this competitor to 8%, according to a source in the party.
“That’s a source of votes that we can salvage,” said the source, saying that LREM’s lead candidate for the European elections would be a figure from the right.
At one stage, the party entertained the idea of having a “green” candidate to head its list because this is an area where LREM has seen its credibility crumble due to decisions taken by the government. These have included postponing the closure of nuclear power stations, deciding not to ban glyphosate and showing little motivation towards renewable energies.
However, this idea is losing ground due to the lack of candidates. This situation should strengthen the French Greens, who are expecting their largest delegation at the European Parliament in a long time, with predictions putting it at between 12 and 15 MEPs.
LREM’s lead candidate is therefore expected to be chosen from within the party. While there are many people wanting the role, there is no stand-out candidate from the right of the party.
Sylvie Goulard, currently vice-president at the Banque de France, is unable to stand due to the preliminary investigation into parliamentary assistants of the centrist MoDem party. In this context, nominating the diplomat Loiseau makes sense, even if the latter denies this for the time being.
“I’m not the candidate. I hope to be useful where I am. That’s not for me to decide or to assess my usefulness, but I will campaign,” she told the private broadcaster RTL on 15 February.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]