MAThere’s several things. First, the context has changed since 2017. Now, we’re done with the Angela Merkel era. The European Commission’s current president, Ursula von der Leyen, has the weakest mandate in its history. Moreover, many rules and dogmas have been shattered in the light of the public health crisis. The 3 percent deficit rule was suspended. The rule on state aid, which enshrines the sacrosanct right to free and undistorted competition, was suspended during the crisis. Here is the proof that these rules do not make sense, even from the standpoint of free-market liberals.
Also, thanks to our experience at the European level, we have gained a more precise understanding of our capacity and our strategy to achieve our goals. Our logic, our compass, is to implement our program whatever the cost. We will not give up on the program we have been elected on. That is a democratic imperative: first, because we do not want to lie to the people, and second, because this is also the opportunity to remove the obstacles we’ve identified.
We have reviewed all our proposals with regard to European rules, and we have systematically identified blockages. I mentioned some of them earlier, for instance regarding the renationalization of rail freight and investment in renewables.
Our strategy is based on two pillars. The first is to create the necessary confrontation within the European institutions, over free trade agreements, for example. Such agreements require unanimity among member states. Without France’s signature, there will be no agreement with Mercosur (the Southern Common Market), with China, New Zealand, Canada, or the United States. So, we have the possibility of blocking these rules.
Moreover, there is a certain relation of forces within the EU that has to be considered. We are the second-largest European economy, a net contributor to the European budget. Obviously, we favor European solidarity, and we have no problem being a net contributor. But this mustn’t be done against the interests of France and the program we are elected to implement. So, we are ready to use our contribution as a negotiating tool to ensure that European rules are not applied against the will of the French people.
The second pillar is a strategy of disobedience. The EU has several rules that we are clear we will not respect if we are in power. We would not apply the directive on “posted workers,” which pitches European workers into a race to the bottom. We would instead ensure that, for example, a Polish worker in France has the right to the same social protections as a French worker.
I’ll add that, in reality, disobedience is already commonplace at the European level. Macron himself does not respect data-protection standards. Macron does not respect the norms on working hours and rest periods in ministries. Macron does not respect the European goals on renewable energy. These rules are good, and we intend to respect them — but not the other rules that prevent us from carrying through the ecological transition.
We think our ability to break the rules is a way to make the rules change. There’s plenty of examples. Germany recently said that it wanted to exclude water management from privatization. It obtained that not only for itself, but for the entire EU.
We think our ability to break the EU’s rules is a way to make the rules change.
Even more recently, in the context of the current energy crisis, Spain asked to be able to control energy prices and thus lower them for households — that is, to disregard existing EU competition law. It obtained this exception, and it has been extended to the whole EU. So, I think we can push together with other member states asking for the same things, and this will reorient the European construct. And it does need this change, or else it will surely go to the wall.