EU POLITICS

No to Le Pen, Yes to France

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany and France are Europe’s biggest economies. An effective partnership between them is essential to overcome the threat of nationalism, the author argues.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The final round of the French presidential elections will be held on May 7.
    • Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron is currently ahead in the polls, followed by nationalist Marine le Pen.
    • Germany will elect a new parliament and chancellor on September 24.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
A pedestrian walks past campaign posters for the 2017 French presidential election in Paris
All eyes are on France as far-right candidate Marine Le Pen runs a close second in opinion polls. Source: Reuters

While the polls don’t suggest we are teetering on the edge of a European abyss, in this French presidential election, anything is possible. That’s precisely what makes it both alarming and potentially historical. It’s also the reason that why it doesn’t make sense to forge a Plan B in case Marine Le Pen gets elected. But a Plan A in case of a victory for Emmanuel Macron or Francois Fillon is an absolute must.

In short: Germany needs to launch a Franco-German initiative immediately after the French presidential election, and before parliamentary elections in Germany. We cannot wait until the start of 2018.

With the scourge of nationalism paralyzing the EU, the German election campaign should be focused on what’s really important. Geopolitically, this means Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Syria and Donald Trump. We must do everything we can to move Europe forward again, and a Franco-German initiative – based around a comprehensive new security policy and a practical new agreement over economic policy – should lead the way.

Having separate Middle East policies in France and Germany is pointless. The next indiscriminate terrorist attack might occur in either country.

Germany and France could, for example, set up a mutual security cabinet for foreign, defense and development ministers to enhance the work already being done by interior and justice ministers. Having separate Middle East policies in France and Germany is pointless. The next indiscriminate terrorist attack might occur in either country.

From the insight gained through comprehensive mutual security efforts, it follows that our national economies should not be allowed to drift further apart. Mr. Macron and Mr. Fillon want economic reform in France. This will have to be flanked by fiscal and structural policies so that Germany can be a help, not a hindrance.

Here, it would be worth considering a Franco-German investment fund to finance infrastructure and innovation. President Francois Holland fatally squandered the first two years of his presidency on socialist election promises. Five years later, we have no time to waste. The situation is serious. Anything is possible – even clear and decisive policy.

11 p10 Presidential Elections in France 2017-01

The contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com

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