Marine Le Pen vows to block further EU integration
By Hugh Carnegy in Paris, Financial Times, January 9, 2014
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front (FN), has promised that nationalist parties will do “the maximum” to block further EU integration if they make gains in this year’s European elections, as is widely expected.
"I don’t expect anything from the European system except that it explodes," Ms Le Pen said as she predicted that eurosceptic parties from across the continent would make a "massive breakthrough" in elections to the European parliament at the end of May.
Speaking to a group of US and British media in Paris, she declared: “The role we will have—we, the patriots elected to the European parliament—will be to block by all means, to the maximum, anything that contributes to the transfer of powers from our people to the European Union.”
She added: “We must bring down the wall of Brussels, just as the Berlin Wall came down.”
She singled out current talks between the EU and the US on a mooted new transatlantic trade accord, saying she saw “no interest at all” for France in such a deal.
The FN, which polls have indicated could come top in the European elections in France, has forged an anti-EU alliance with the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), led by Geert Wilders, ahead of the vote.
Eurosceptic parties have made strong gains in many EU member states, boosted by disaffection with austerity policies championed by Brussels to combat the financial crisis and record levels of unemployment.
Ms Le Pen said the FN and PVV were working with like-minded parties in Austria, Sweden, Italy and other countries to form a group after the elections to co-ordinate action in the parliament, which has acquired enhanced legislative powers in recent years.
She made it clear she would like to include Britain’s UK Independence party, which has so far resisted links to the FN because of its past associations with anti-Semitism. She called Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, “my friend Nigel” and stressed the two parties had “very similar policies” on the “Soviet European Union”.
Party leader for the past three years since she took over from her father Jean-Marie, Ms Le Pen, 45, came third in the 2012 presidential election with almost 18 per cent of the vote and has since enjoyed rising popularity as approval ratings for President François Hollande have plunged to record lows.
She said if a recent poll was confirmed that showed the FN leading Mr Hollande’s Socialist party and the mainstream opposition UMP party in the European election race, it would spark “a real political crisis” in France. The FN won 6 per cent in the last European election in 2009.
"It would call into question the choices made by the two dominant French political parties over the past 30 years," she said.