Two weeks before the European elections, Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique en Marche (LREM) party published its election programme and is now attempting to mobilise pro-European voters, including those in Berlin. EURACTIV Germany reports.
In Berlin, the German election team of LREM presented its programme for the European election campaign, titled ‘Renaissance’. Just a week before, Macron’s election manifesto was published in the 23 official EU languages in Paris. LREM organised similar events in the German-speaking cities of Vienna, Frankfurt, and Hamburg.
With its international presence, Macron’s campaign is not only directed towards French people at home and abroad, but also towards other EU citizens. “We regard ourselves as a European movement,” said Isabelle Négrier, leader of LREM’s campaign in the German-speaking areas.
Around 150,000 French citizens who are eligible to vote are registered in Germany and Austria, and they do not have the same priorities as French people living in France, she explained.
As the 2017 citizen consultations organised under the motto “La Grande Marche” (the big march) showed, many French citizens abroad were more concerned with the environment and the economic development of the EU. Compared to mainland France, migration was more of a marginal issue, while education plays a crucial role.
LREM’s representatives were eager from the outset to find supporters outside of France. “We campaigned in the streets, French schools, and in consulates,” Négrier said. LREM’s candidate list also has people with double nationalities.
Around 2,700 people are listed on LREM’s list. France will have around 79 seats in the European Parliament.
A European army and €1 billion for an energy transition
In a letter to the “citizens of Europe”, published together with LREM’s election programme, Emmanuel Macron is calling for greater unity and solidarity between EU member states.
The EU is at an important historical juncture, notably in relation to populism and the Brexit chaos. The French president is, therefore, calling for a deeper commitment by the Schengen members. Together, they should take on responsibilities to ensure border protection, which should be managed by common border police and a European asylum office.
Many of Macron’s proposals are not new, including his call for a European army, a European Council for internal security, and increased military spending. The programme mentions Macron’s other ideas such as that of a European minimum wage, an agency to protect European democracies, and an Erasmus-programme available for all young Europeans.
To protect the European economy, LREM suggests sanctioning foreign firms that undermine the EU’s strategic interests or bypass standards related to the environment, data protection and tax rates.
LREM’s election programme is quite ambitious on climate protection. According to Macron, the EU should raise at least €1 trillion for the energy transition by 2024.
This state- and privately-funded project should support the development of renewable energies, mobility transition, the building sector and the guided structural change. According to the programme, a European climate bank would cover the financing of the ecological transition.
Marine Le Pen toe-to-toe with Macron
Some two weeks before the European elections, LREM made its political affiliations for the new EU Parliament public. Eight European parties have banded under the “Renaissance” banner, most of which belong to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE).
In addition to the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), there is the Spanish centre-right party Ciudadanos, Dutch party D66, centrist Hungarian party Momentum, liberal Belgian party MR, liberal Austrian party Neos, as well as Dutch Prime Minister Rutte’s party VVD.
On Saturday (11 May), representatives of these parties met in Strasbourg and are hoping to form an alliance of at least 100 MEPs.
Macron’s new planned alliance should above all serve as a counterweight to the expected growth of right-wing and populist parties.
Renaissance can hope to become the third-strongest presence in the European Parliament after the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). But if a joint right-wing populist group were to form, including Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National and Matteo Salvini’s’ Lega, it could end up in third place.
In France, Macron’s LREM is currently neck and neck Marine Le Pen, as both poll at around 22%.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]