France’s Hollande warns for Frexit
French President Francois Hollande warned on Monday that far-right parties in France and other European countries constituted a real threat to the future of EU construction.
In an interview with six European newspapers, Hollande warned there was a "threat" that National Front leader Marine Le Pen could win the next French presidential election. "The threat exists," Hollande said. He noted that far-right movements had never been on such a rise in France in the last 30 years. "But France will not give in," Hollande said, vowing to "do everything" in his power to stop it from happening.
Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, is likely to win the first round of France's election on April 23. Polls indicate she would then lose in the second-round run-off on May 7 to centrist independent Emmanuel Macron.
Hollande said all populists shared the objective of "leaving Europe, closing off from the world and conceiving a future surrounded by barriers of all kinds and borders defended by watchtowers. My ultimate duty is to do everything to stop France from being convinced by such a project [...]"
The French leader said he was most worried by the idea of "each country looking out for its own immediate interest without bringing a common ambition", adding this would lead to the EU ending up "diluted and dislocated".
The outgoing president is expected to host a mini-summit with the leaders of Germany, Spain and Italy in Versailles on Monday evening to prepare the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.
Hollande took the opportunity to say that Britain would lose membership benefits and become an "outsider" to the EU once the Brexit process has been finalized.
He also added that events in the U.S. related to the rise to power of Donald Trump had complicated Britain's situation even further.
"The U.K.'s problem is this: it had thought that in leaving Europe it would tie up a strategic partnership with the U.S.," Hollande said. "But it now happens that the U.S. is closing itself off from the world. The U.K. has made a bad choice at a bad moment. I regret that."
However, Hollande said the door would be open for the U.K. -- which has close military ties with France -- to be linked to any integrated European defense project.
"In my mind, the U.K., even outside the EU, should be associated with that," he said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has set the end of March as the deadline to trigger Article 50, which signals the formal intention to leave the EU.