Written by Caroline Brenière & Morgane Mounier
The French elections have never been so unpredictable, yet so crucial for Europe’s future; especially when it comes to Brexit negotiations with Brussels and the 26 other country members.
Polls predict former Minister of Economy Emmanuel Macron and leader of the far-right party Marine Le Pen would fight in the second round on 7th April. But a sense of uncertainty runs high in this election and predictions about this last round are still impossible to pin down. This isn’t a source of worry for the French alone, but also for the British who fear that the future French president will influence their way out of the EU.
Scholars and journalists, whether French or British, agree that the French elections are decisive for the future of Europe. France and Germany are crucial in Brexit’s finalities and experts agree that the future French president could contribute in reshaping the UK’s future.
However, they don’t all agree on who the friendliest candidate to the Brexit process is.
For Françoise Boucek, Professor at Queen Mary University, Emmanuel Macron appears as a conciliatory candidate, willing to accommodate the majority.
The former Minister of Economy, the most pro-EU of the five main candidates, is fond of Britain, but does it mean he would make the Brexit process easier? Not necessarily, explains John Peet, journalist at The Economist. Any candidate who takes the presidential role would be tough on negotiations, says the specialist, even though he believes that Macron is “the friendliest candidate to the British”.
“Marine Le Pen would be an existential threat”, John Peet
On the other hand, Professor at Sciences Po University of Paris Christian Lesquene, says Macron, as much as Hamon or Fillon, would be a tough negotiator: asking for financial guarantees and a reform of the Eurozone. He believes, however, that Marine Le Pen, who wants to renegotiate the relationship between France and the EU and proposes a referendum to leave, won’t ask for too many constraints to the UK regarding Brexit.
John Peet believes the election of Marine Le Pen would be an “existential threat”. He points out that she is very much against free-trade and has always been explicit about her skepticism of European Treaties.
“If she does win, she will not be too accommodating to the United-Kingdom.” Peet also says that her potential victory and desire to leave the EU would be a “great threat for the unity of the 27 members” and that “saving the European project would become a priority, over the Brexit negotiations.”
Christine Boucek reminded us that the decision will be taken by 27 countries and that the result of the French elections will not have such a great impact on Brexit, but on the relationship between the decision-making states.