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Michel Barnier warns France could be falling out of love with the EU

The European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Bernier, has warned that in France there is a growing appetite to exit the EU, and that French politicians should learn from Brexit as a cautionary tale.

“We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves,” Barnier told a conference in Le Touquet, France.

“It’s now too late for the UK but not for us. Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52% at the referendum? 52% of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.

“We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions…citizens who want to leave the EU.

“They say that the EU does not respond to legitimate desires of citizens, and that there is social unrest or anger – one might say, because there’s no protection of external borders. Some people say immigration flows are impacting us…and Europe is also often criticised for its red tape and complexity.”

With a French presidential election coming in 2022, both liberal incumbent Emmanual Macron and right wing eurosceptic Marine Le Pen are set to square off electorally, with Le Pen holding a slight edge in the polls so far.

Several leftwing French politicians, including socialist former finance minister Arnaud Montebourg, have predicted a Le Pen victory – a victory which Le Pen has said would dramatically change France’s relationship with Brussels “at the national level.”

“She’s going to win,” Montebourg said. “It is he [Macron] who will put Madame Le Pen in power,” adding that Macron is widely “hated because he is arrogant” and that he is seen to “carry out the will of the oligarchy.”

“It’s the same as the Trump phenomenon or Brexit,” the former socialist minister added.

 

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