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Why a Marine Le Pen victory would be disaster for EU – but a delight for Putin

WorldWhy a Marine Le Pen victory would be disaster for EU - but a delight for Putin

Marine Le Pen remains in striking distance of the Elysee in a run-off against incumbent Emmanuel Macron, who has so far failed to impress France’s divided electorate. It is widely accepted that a win for the far-right candidate would be nothing short of a disaster for the EU, but it could also play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some voters have been wooed by Ms Le Pen’s focus on France’s cost of living crisis, which has taken the forefront while Mr Macron deals with France’s limited reaction to the war in Ukraine.

At this point, lawmakers in France are clearly concerned. The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Tuesday that Ms Le Pen would “hand France’s sovereignty to Vladimir Putin” if she was elected.

A win for Ms Le Pen would put a Kremlin supporter at the heart of the Germany-France relationship that runs the EU, but how exactly would her premiership unravel the bloc?

READ MORE: Macron and Le Pen set for bombshell election TV fight

Nearly all of Ms Le Pen’s policies – on the economy, social policy and immigration – imply breaking sovereign EU rules.

A planned early referendum on a proposed law on “citizenship, identity and immigration” that could modify the constitution to allow a “national priority” for French citizens for things like employment, benefits and housing would be in direct contravention of EU values and free movement rules.

The same referendum would seek to establish French law as having supremacy over EU law.

In her party’s own words, it would “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”.

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Ms Le Pen has also vowed to re-establish border controls on imports and people, another violation of EU and Schengen rules, and unilaterally cut France’s contribution to the EU budget.

However, more recently she has pledged to drop her previous plans to take France out of the Eurozone.

Ms Le Pen travelled to Moscow to meet President Putin when she was running for the presidency in 2017, and has received loans from a Russian bank to fund her party.

She was also an open supporter of the annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as supporting Russia’s action in Syria.

Prior to the outbreak of war in Ukraine, she has blamed NATO and the west for stoking the tensions with Russia.

She said: “The United States is pushing Ukraine to join NATO with the aim of deploying armed forces on Russia’s border, so the Russians are retaliating, putting forces at their borders with Ukraine.”

Speaking at a news conference this week, she backed closer ties between NATO and Russia, saying: “As soon as the Russian-Ukrainian war is over and has been settled by a peace treaty, I will call for the implementation of a strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia.”

And she reaffirmed her intention to leave NATO’s integrated military command, saying: “I would place our troops neither under an integrated NATO command nor under a future European command,” adding that she refused any “subjection to an American protectorate”.

She also vowed to engage closely with the Kremlin after the war in Ukraine.

Ms Le Pen has long advocated for rapprochement with Russia, but she is now attempting to sway voters with a potential alliance to keep China at bay.

She said: “Imagine … if we let the first producer of raw materials in the world — which is Russia — [create an alliance] with the first factory of the world — which is China — to let them perhaps constitute the first military power of the world. I believe that it’s potentially a great danger.”

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