What do France's presidential candidates propose for the EU?

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By Marie Jamet
French presidential candidate pamphlets
French presidential candidate pamphlets   -  Copyright  Euronews/Marie Jamet

While none of France's presidential candidates is talking about a French exit from the European Union, there are stark differences between their campaign programmes.

Yannick Jadot, a European parliamentarian running as the Greens candidate, proposes a move towards more European integration, while far-right candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan suggests replacing the union with a community of free nations.

Here's what France's 12 presidential candidates think about the European Union.

Nathalie Arthaud - Workers' Struggle

The far-left candidate states in her programme that Europe is a "fragile construction" but does not detail what the party proposes for Europe.

The candidate declares that she dreams of a "truly united and fraternal Europe" which would be a "socialist United States of Europe" without capitalism.

For her, Europe must be borderless and must allow the free movement of migrants.

Philippe Poutou - New Anti-Capitalist Party

A small paragraph is devoted to Europe in Poutou's programme. Like Nathalie Arthaud, Poutou's far-left party wants a Europe "of workers and peoples".

He considers the European Union's migration policy to be "xenophobic" and advocates for open borders, a better welcome for migrants and respect for the right to asylum.

Poutou is against a common European defence and in favour of leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon - France Unbowed

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, also on the far-left, says that several European treaties and policies are incompatible with his programme including free trade agreements that are opposed to environmental protectionism.

The programme says he will implement the party's platform at the national level even if it means breaking EU rules.

Daniel Cole/AP Photo
Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon speaks during a rally at the Prado beach in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, March 27, 2022.Daniel Cole/AP Photo

He supports measures to make the EU more democratic, more environmentally friendly, and more open to welcoming migrants. His positions include ending the Dublin Regulation, introducing a European citizen referendum and a minimum wage at the European level.

His programme says that EU member states should be given back their budgetary sovereignty, with an end to rules limiting budget deficit to 3 per cent of GDP and debt to 60 per cent.

Mélenchon is opposed to NATO and a common European defence.

Fabien Roussel - Communist Party

Fabien Roussel does not have a separate section concerning Europe in his election programme. Most of the measures are grouped together in his proposals concerning foreign policy and other subjects.

Several of the party's proposals are close to Mélenchon's party proposals including opposition to certain free trade agreements and the Dublin Regulation.

Roussel would also like to end the rule limiting budget deficit to 3% of GDP and wants a minimum corporate tax rate of 25%.

The party wants 6% of EU member states' GDPs devoted to climate and social problems.

He is also in favour of leaving NATO.

Yannick Jadot - Europe Ecology the Greens party

Jadot's programme seeks to strengthen the European Union, with measures to make it more democratic with simpler decision-making. He proposes that certain decisions could be taken by a qualified majority of member states and not only by unanimity.

Jadot also proposes that European commissioners be elected by MEPs and wants to strengthen the EU budget, with 1 per cent of GDP of each member state set aside for the bloc.

On the environment, he proposes a public investment plan of €200 billion over 10 years for the climate transition and wants 50 per cent of the EU's multiannual budget to be dedicated to climate and biodiversity. He also is in favour of a new treaty on the environment.

Anne Hidalgo - Socialist Party

While Hidalgo is against some of the EU's current measures such as the stability and growth pact, which coordinates EU fiscal policies, she states that Europeans "must unite, act together, and not retreat behind our respective national borders."

At the heart of Hidalgo's programme are principles of social justice.

She says the European agenda should include a common minimum wage, gender equality, a tax on financial transactions, a minimum corporate tax rate of 15%, and more control over tax havens. Hidalgo says trade treaties should be conditional on social and environmental criteria.

On migration, she advocates for a reform of the Dublin Regulation in favour of solidarity between member states while fighting against irregular migration.

She proposes making the European Union more democratic, such as allowing the European Parliament to amend the multi-annual budget.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a media conference after an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, March 25, 2022.Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo

Emmanuel Macron - Republic Forward

The presidential election is happening while incumbent Emmanuel Macron leads the rotating EU Council presidency. His programme details his record on Europe including the economic recovery fund.

Macron is in favour of economic development accompanied by social and environmental measures, including a carbon tax at the EU's borders, mirror clauses (which prohibit imports that do not comply with European standards) in trade agreements, while also defending a directive on a minimum wage, salary transparency and gender equality.

The "strength" of the European Union must, Macron says, be achieved through a reform of the Schengen area including an emergency support mechanism at the EU's external borders.

He has advocated for a common European defence. Macron also proposes a six-month European civic service for people under 25.

The outgoing president also says he is in favour of developing European infrastructures such as a cloud, a metaverse or even a satellite constellation.

Valérie Pécresse - The Republicans

Right-wing candidate Valérie Pécresse calls for a strengthening of common borders "through the recruitment of 10,000 additional border guards" for Frontex.

She is also in favour of a European defence force in conjunction with NATO. She would like to be able to introduce a preference for European companies and a carbon tax at the borders.

She calls for making "Europe a continent proud of its history, its roots and its culture, by putting an end to cancel culture".

Jean Lassalle - Resist!

Centre-right candidate Jean Lassalle's proposals regarding the European Union are succinct, vague and geared toward greater national sovereignty of member states.

He states that the national parliament should be able to debate and vote on all laws of European origin.

Lassalle wants to withdraw the European Commission's right to represent France in the negotiation of "international investment protection treaties".

He is also in favour of France's withdrawal from NATO.

Marine Le Pen - The National Rally

No chapter is dedicated to the European Union in far-right leader Marine Le Pen's programme, with proposals distributed amongst other themes.

While leaving the EU is not on the party's agenda, Le Pen said she is in favour of reforms and the creation of a European alliance to replace the EU.

National sovereignty is at the heart of the party's proposals on Europe, including the precedence of national law over European law through a modification of the constitution by referendum.

Le Pen proposes adding border controls to better monitor migration and reforming Schengen to allow only simplified border crossing for EU citizens.

She also wants to simplify the EU standards imposed on small businesses and on farmers.

Francois Mori/AP Photo
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen gives a press conference about the France's EU presidency, in Paris, Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022.Francois Mori/AP Photo

Nicolas Dupont-Aignan - Stand up France

Far-right candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan wants to replace the European Union with a community of "free nations". He calls for a "confederal, flexible and proactive European organisation" of nations.

"The combination of crises, problems and injustices attributable to (the EU) now places Europe in an untenable situation, from which it must emerge as quickly as possible if it does not want to sink," he says.

He proposes a suspension of treaties in place organising Schengen.

Eric Zemmour - Reconquest

Far-right TV personality Eric Zemmour, like Lassalle and Dupont-Aignan, would like to create a "Europe of Nations".

He would like member states to have greater control of their borders and is in favour of constructing a wall at the external European land borders.

He calls for the primacy of national law over European law and for reserving EU intervention only for subjects that cannot be regulated at the national level.

Zemmour is opposed to the further enlargement of the bloc and any new free trade agreement.

In a symbolic proposal, he would like to ban flying the European flag without the French flag on public buildings.