French Pres­i­dent Macron urges EU to heed work­ers, mid­dle classes

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron said on Tues­day the Euro­pean Union has failed to pro­tect the less well-off as it pushes a neo-lib­eral agenda, sig­nal­ing a more crit­i­cal stance as eu­roskep­tics make gains be­fore elec­tions next spring.

In re­cent months Macron has framed elec­tions to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment next May as a bat­tle be­tween anti-im­mi­grant na­tion­al­ists and pro-EU “pro­gres­sives.”

On Tues­day he ad­dressed vot­ers’ con­cerns that have boosted sup­port for far­right and eu­roskep­tic par­ties in France, and drew par­al­lels with Bri­tain’s de­par­ture from the EU.

“We need to hear the fear and anger. There’s anger against a Europe that has be­come too ul­tra-lib­eral,” Macron told France’s Europe 1 ra­dio in an in­ter­view.

“This anger is di­rected at an ul­tra-lib­eral Europe which no longer al­lows our mid­dle classes to live de­cently,” he said, us­ing a term as­so­ci­ated in France with an ex­ces­sively free-mar­ket ide­ol­ogy.

An Ifop sur­vey pub­lished on Sun­day showed the far-right Rassem­ble­ment Na­tional party, for­merly the Na­tional Front, has moved ahead of Macron’s Republique En Marche party for the first time in a poll for the Euro­pean elec­tions.

It also showed far-right and anti-EU par­ties with a com­bined sup­port of 30 per­cent, up from 25 per­cent at the end of Au­gust.

Macron said Brexit was the re­sult of dis­en­chant­ment of the work­ing and mid­dle classes with Europe and the City of Lon­don fi­nan­cial cen­ter.

“When Bri­tain de­cides to leave Europe, it’s the mid­dle classes which say: ‘This Europe you’re sell­ing me, it makes the City bet­ter off but I, in the coun­try or in­dus­trial towns, I’m worse off,’” he said. “We need to hear that, so we need a Europe that pro­tects work­ers more.”

The French leader, who has cham­pi­oned a pro-busi­ness agenda at home in­clud­ing la­bor re­forms and pri­va­ti­za­tions, has at the same time tried to pla­cate pro­tec­tion­ist in­stincts in France by tout­ing a “Europe that pro­tects.”

On Tues­day Macron also said Europe needed to build a real army to be­come less re­liant on the US.

“We won’t pro­tect Euro­peans if we don’t de­cide to have a real Euro­pean army,” Macron said.

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