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How a Marine Le Pen win will be “fatal for Europe” – and not just because of Frexit risk

WorldHow a Marine Le Pen win will be “fatal for Europe” - and not just because of Frexit risk

Despite no longer directly advocating to leave the European Union (EU) and abandon the Euro as she was doing so during her campaign in 2017, far-right Marine Le Pen’s 2022 programme has been coined “Frexit in all but name”. Much of what she hopes to do cannot be implemented within the current EU framework, which could lead to a standoff with Brussels if she wins the French presidential election on Sunday.

Ms Le Pen made it very clear during her campaign in Burgundy, the day after reaching the second round of the presidential election, that “it is not her objective to leave the EU”.

However, much of the Rassemblement National leader’s objectives, particularly surrounding the economy, social policy, and immigration, would imply breaking EU rules, and her possible victory on Sunday has been described as “fatal” for Europe, according to German Green MP Anton Hofreiter, chair of the Bundestag’s European Affairs Committee.

Mr Hofreiter said it would “massively endanger the security of all people in Europe, and of course, it would be a huge problem for economic cooperation in the EU, for issues such as future technologies, climate protection or EU foreign policy.”

According to Politico, among a number of key themes for the far-right leader, including “Islamic fundamentalism,” and hatred of “Brussels” and the “dictates of EU bureaucrats”; the belief that France’s sovereignty cannot coexist with EU authority remains at the heart of what she stands for.

READ MORE: Le Pen fears France could “throw Russian into the arms of China”

How will a Le Pen win affect the European Union?

Earlier this year, Ms Le Pen said as it exists today, the EU was “neglectful of people, and domineering of nations”, and an “intrusive and authoritarian” bloc locked into “a globalist, open-border ideology” that was “destroying our identity”.

She told crowds her ambition was of an “alliance of nations … respectful of peoples, histories and national sovereignties”, whose members could “favour their own businesses for public contracts” and “re-establish permanent checks” on their borders.

Among Ms Le Pen’s plans, institutional reforms are permanent features in the political programme, and using referendums to let the popular vote decide on certain issues tops the list.

Reports say Ms Le Pen plans to launch one of these referendums on a proposed law on “citizenship, identity and immigration”.

This would alter the constitution to allow a “national priority” for French citizens in employment, social security benefits and public housing, which is a measure that conflicts with EU values and free movement rules.

The referendum would also hope to establish “the primacy of national law over European law” to allow France “not only to control immigration but, in every other area, reconcile its European engagement with the preservation of its national sovereignty and the defence of its interests”.

This would enable France to pick and choose the areas of EU legislation to abide by, an approach vehemently opposed by the bloc and one that was forcefully ruled out during Brexit negotiations.

She has also proposed removing taxes on hundreds of goods, including taxes on fuel, which contradicts the EU’s free-market rules and efforts to fight climate change.

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Ms Le Pen also wants to slash its contribution to the EU by €5 billion.

Commenting on Le Pen’s plans to reduce its EU budget, Social Democratic Markus Töns, deputy chair of the Bundestag’s European Affairs committee told Politico: “We can’t simply cancel what has been agreed. After all, we are contractual partners. Does she want to lead France out of the European Union? That would be extremely damaging to the French economy.”

Mr Hofreiter said: “Legally, that is not possible at all.”

And due to this breach of contractual agreement, if Le Pen were to attempt to enforce this, the country could face legal challenges, penalties and fines, according to a senior EU diplomat, further driving a wedge between France and the EU.

As a founding member and key proponent of what has turned the bloc into the economic giant it is today, France has always stood at the heart of the EU.

Former chief of staff to the former European Commission president, Pascal Lamy, said a Le Pen victory would be a shock on a larger scale “than Trump was for the United States or Brexit for the UK”.

Politico concluded that a Le Pen win and a Frexit referendum could mean “the end of the EU as we know it”.

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