A possible far-right victory in France is seen as a threat to the EU

PARIS (AP) – The thought of an ultra-right leader standing at the top of the European Union would be abhorrent to most in the 27-nation bloc. But if Emmanuel Macron falters in the French presidential election on April 24, it could take up to two weeks.

Experts say the victory of right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen will have a huge impact on the functioning of the European Union. Taking power would not only damage the 27-nation bloc’s democratic values ​​and commercial rules, but it would also threaten the EU’s common front and sanctions that have been created in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Macron, the current president with strong pro-European views, and anti-immigration nationalist Le Pen could not have had a more radically opposing view of the European Union.

After the results were announced, Macron said, “The debate that will take place in the next days is important for our country and Europe.” On Tuesday, he is traveling to Strasbourg, the seat of the EU Parliament, to talk about France’s role in Europe. All polls show that Macron is the favorite in the vote, but Le Pen has narrowed the gap significantly compared to the last presidential election five years ago.

France has always stood at the center of the European Union – a founding member that has partnered with neighbor and historical rival Germany to make the bloc an economic giant and a symbol of Western values. Handing that tortured perch to a far-right politician would be bad enough. But, as would coincide, France also holds the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union this spring, which also allows it to speak with a power of 27.

This is a seat that some people like to attribute to Le Pen. National rally leaders want to establish national border controls on imports and people, reduce French contributions to the EU budget and stop recognizing that European law has primacy over national legislation.

It has proposed removing taxes on hundreds of essential goods and wants to lower taxes on fuel – which would go against EU free market rules.

Jean-Claude Piris, who served as legal adviser to the European Council and is an expert on EU institutions, said Le Pen’s victory would have an “earthquake” effect, as the measures she champions, They will be similar in practice. Withdrawal from the 27-nation block.

“He favors a form of economic patriotism with state aid, which is contrary to the rules of the single market,” Piris said in an interview with The Associated Press. “France will no longer participate in shared free market and commercial policies.”

“She wants to amend the French Constitution by suppressing the right of soil, the right of asylum, giving preference to the French,” said Piris, “which would be completely inconsistent with the values ​​of European treaties”.

Piris said Le Pen’s arrival would also threaten the consensus of 27 on sanctions imposed against Russia so far over the invasion of Ukraine. She could have prevented further measures being adopted. The bloc is currently considering the opportunity to add further sanctions on oil imports from Russia.

Le Pen has forged close ties with the Kremlin over the years. In his previous bid to become French president in 2017, he called for stronger security ties with Moscow to jointly combat radical Islamist groups. It also pledged to recognize Crimea – a peninsula annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – as part of Russia.

Le Pen acknowledged that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “partially” changed his views of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he was “wrong” and expressed his support for the Ukrainian people and refugees. Were were

Piris believes that although Le Pen may find allies in some of the right-wing governments currently in power in Eastern Europe, he will face hostile reactions from most other EU members.

Louis Eliot, the vice president of Le Pen’s National Rally party, told France Info news broadcaster on Monday that France’s allies would include Hungary and Poland.

A report by the Center for European Reform published on Monday highlighted how Le Pen could go down a similar path to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Moraviecki, where he joins the already cumbersome EU. You can throw obstacles to Brussels to slow it down further. take a decision

“The difference is that France … is indispensable to the EU,” the report insisted, adding that the consequences would be “political chaos”.

CER experts also believe that Le Pen’s policies will clash with the bloc’s climate goals. Le Pen favors nuclear expansion and several non-governmental groups have warned that it will slow the transition to renewable energy.

On top of that, the traditional French-German tandem would be weakened, with German Socialist Chancellor Olaf Scholz highly unlikely to reach an agreement with Le Pen.

Neighboring Luxembourg’s longtime foreign minister, Jean Esselborn, called the situation “very, very worrying”.

Le Pen as President of France “will not be just an upheaval in Europe as a project of values, a peace project; it will put us on a completely different track to the essence of the European Union,” said Esselborn . “The French must stop this.”

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Casert and Petrequin reported from Brussels. Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy and Geir Moulsen in Berlin contributed.

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