Emmanuel Macron discusses Russian 'war crimes' in Ukraine
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On Sunday France will go to the polls to decide whether to vote for the incumbent Mr Macron, or his far-right rival Marine Le Pen in the presidential election. Polling conducted over the Easter weekend suggests Mr Macron is on course to reclaim the keys to the Elysée Palace, after the President watered down his unpopular retirement reforms and signalled to left-wing voters his need for them. According to a YouGov and Datapraxis poll Mr Macron is on course to win 54 percent of the second round vote, with Ms Le Pen projected to lose despite a sizable 46 percent of French support.
On Saturday Mr Macron held a rally in Marseille to win over young people who overwhelmingly voted for rivals Jean-Luv Mélenchon and Ms Le Pen in the first round.
The French leader’s speech was focused on the environment, while he also attacked Ms Le Pen by calling her a “climate sceptic”.
The result of Sunday’s election will have vastly different consequences for the EU.
Though she has toned down the anti-European rhetoric and dropped her 2017 pledge for a Frexit, Ms Le Pen is an ardent eurosceptic and has vowed to reform the bloc from the inside so it functions in accordance with French needs.
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Mr Macron however is a central player in the EU, while in December announced his ambitious plan for Europe to be the “master of its own destiny”.
Speaking on the eve of his six-month appointment as President of the EU Council, Mr Macron called on the bloc to change from a “Europe of internal cooperation to a powerful Europe active in the world, fully sovereign, free in its choices and the master of its own destiny”.
He also presented a new EU slogan to mark the beginning of his six month tenure ‒ “Relaunch, power and belonging”.
Mr Macron stressed his determination to forge “European sovereignty”,insisting that it was the only way for the continent to count in a world where the US’ focus has moved away from the EU.
To forge such sovereignty, Mr Macron announced a cascade of objectives, including a Euro-African summit to “rebuild” relations and offer a “new deal” for Africa.
He also proposed a security summit to galvanise joint European military exercises and help develop a shared defence industry in the bloc, while he suggested measures to turn Europe into a “digital power”.
Mr Macron stressed “I am a proud European”, before describing how the continent had come together to fight the pandemic.
He said: “It’s a beautiful thing, Europe.
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“When you defend Europe, you have to defend it completely.
“You have to correct it. You have to confront its faults, its bureaucratic complexities, its deviations.”
Mr Macron was also scathing of the UK, who left the EU in January 2020.
He accused the UK of operating an economic model that relies “on the ilegal work of foreigners”, while he suggested that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was incapable of “good faith”.
Mr Macron also said he could not forget the UK’s role in an Anglo-American deal, signed in November, to sell nuclear powered submarines to Australia.
The three-way agreement upended a previous commitment Australia had made to France, to buy conventional French submarines.
Mr Macron believed that the submarine contract was a deliberate ploy to undermine a “French vision in the Indo-Pacific” and was “not exactly a flagrant sign of friendship, to use a touch of understatement.”
Ultimately Mr Macron is a staunch defender of the European project and sees his country’s position in the bloc as a point of strength for France.
Following his success in the first round of the election a week ago the President said: “On April 24 we can make the choice of hope. We can make the choice of France and Europe together”.
Meanwhile Ms Le Pen wants to take back what she calls French sovereignty, claiming: “I will bring back France’s sovereignty in all areas, which means freedom for the French people to decide for themselves and defend their interests.”
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