Macron running scared? French leader ‘plays EU card’ in frenzied bid to salvage election

The embattled French president’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) party has launched an Association for a European Renaissance to promote the leader’s EU successes to a disenchanted domestic audience. The new movement aims to bring together all French voters interested in Europe but cynics claim Mr Macron is simply playing his EU card to the full – a tactic which brought him success at the polls in 2017.

From LREM or not, young or old, involved in politics or not: the Europe of tomorrow concerns us all!

Valerie Hayer

LREM MEP Valérie Hayer, who leads the association, said its goal was to “make known and bring to life the European project carried by the President of the Republic and by us, the members of the European Parliament.”

She said she hoped sympathisers from other parties and undecided voters would also join her ranks.

Ms Hayer said: “From LREM or not, young or old, involved in politics or not: the Europe of tomorrow concerns us all!

“This is the EU we want to build through @RenaissanceUE and to which you can all contribute. Join us!”

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Critics said the idea was to highlight the “European successes” of Mr Macron over the past five years instead of facing up to his performances at home.

They said Mr Macron, his European Affairs minister Clément Beaune and the 23 MEPs from the “Renaissance” list were always keen to celebrate the “ideas of France” to move Europe forward, from the Covid recovery plan which is based on a common debt to an as-yet hypothetical carbon tax at the borders.

But they also acknowledged the political calendar could work in Mr Macron’s favour if he actually decides to be a candidate for re-election next year.

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The Conference on the Future of Europe – another idea claimed by the French – is a large-scale public participation exercise aimed at rethinking the way the EU works and reviewing its main political workings and is to be launched in Strasbourg on 9 May.

Ms Hayer made no secret of the fact she would be pushing for members of the Association for a European Renaissance to have a place in citizens’ panels and other debates, events and round tables organised as part of the consultation.

She said: “Alongside Macron, we want to reform and defend European sovereignty.

“Since our election to the European Parliament, the 23 members of the Renaissance delegation have given substance, on a daily basis, to the concept of European sovereignty that Emmanuel Macron presented during his speech at La Sorbonne.”

She continued: “By his side, and with Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs, we are winning many battles at European level to strengthen our Europe.

“We are driven by the defence of essential values: protection of the planet, respect for the rule of law, the preservation of fundamental freedoms.

“But because this commitment must go beyond the institutional framework, we have created, with the Association for a European Renaissance.”

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And in a message to supporters she said: “Our goals are simple: Allow you to join us to promote, everywhere in the territories, our ideas for Europe.

“Make our contributions within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe and to prepare for the French Presidency of the EU.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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