‘Elephant in the room!’ French election derails Emmanuel Macron EU presidency speech

France election ‘elephant in the room’ in Brussels says Keating

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France 24’s Brussels correspondent described the upcoming French Presidential elections as the “elephant in the room” as Emmanuel Macron addressed MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday. During the address, the French President was confronted by one German MEP who openly called for French voters to back Mr Macron’s rival for the presidency, Valérie Pécresse. 

Mr Keating told France24: “Macron, Of course, avoided talking about the upcoming French presidential election, the elephant in the room.

“It was super interesting that the first person to bring that up was not a French MEP, but a German MEP Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right European People’s Party.

“Who endorsed Macron’s opponent in the presidential election in his response, Valérie Pécresse, saying that she would be better to lead the French people and he hopes that French voters choose her instead of Macron.

“Macron, of course, is not even yet declared candidate and that election, but Weber’s comments were greeted with some booing from inside the chamber I’m told not just from Macron’s allies, but from other people who just thought it was inappropriate for Weber to bring that into the discussion.”

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“But of course, he set the tone for the whole debate, it was thought that really would only be the French MEP is bringing up the election.

“But now as we can see, as the debate is unfolding, as we speak, the French presidential election is very much playing a role.”

Mr Keating added that in the course of the address, the French President also made a point of mentioning Brexit despite the fact the topic is one “EU leaders tend to want to avoid”.

He told France 24: “It was also interesting to me that he mentioned Brexit.

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“Brexit these days is the topic that EU leaders tend to want to avoid because it’s seen as a big headache.

“So it’s interesting that he mentioned it and that he specifically said that the EU is having problems with the Government of the UK but that the EU has no problem with the British people.”

He added: “Now he’s saying that at exactly the same time that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is fighting for his political life, and there’s a lot of speculation about whether a new government could unlock the impasse there.

“And it was interesting that in the response from the European Commission from Vice-President ‎Maroš Šefčovič, who was speaking on behalf of commission Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who couldn’t be there because she’s had a Covid exposure.

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“He said roughly the same thing, he used the same words that this government in the UK, the EU was having a problem with.

“So that was quite interesting in terms of the responses.”

It comes as Eric Zemmour, the French far-right presidential challenger, on Wednesday said he would seize back control of France’s borders from Europe, block European Union free trade negotiations and prevent any further enlargement of the bloc to the east.

“I want France to be in Europe, but I want France to come before Europe,” Zemmour said in a speech to supporters in Calais. 

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