It’s also unclear how she plans to achieve some of the things set out in her programme. For example, Le Pen isn’t against the EU’s trade deals, though she would like them to exclude agriculture. It’s hard to see how the EU’s trade partners would ever agree to this - though the EU could be forced to pause ongoing negotiations, for example with Australia and New Zealand.
She approves of EU ‘strategic autonomy’ in the field of climate and environment, though she wants to take France out of the EU’s Green deal, which is designed to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050. She wants France to decide independently how to decarbonise, and which parts of the energy sector to invest in - even if this means breaking the EU’s state aid rules. She would also pull France out of the EU’s electricity market.
Similarly, Le Pen supports free movement but wants to limit it to EU passport holders rather than EU residents (it’s not clear whether this should continue to include the Swiss, Norwegians, Icelanders and Liechtensteiners). At the same time, she wants France to have the power "to stop migrants from outside Europe from using the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights to avoid deportation". She also wants to limit welfare benefits and council housing to French citizens (certain benefits would only be available for those who have worked a minimum of 5 years). She also thinks EU countries should be in a position to reintroduce border checks within Schengen.
Le Pen may find it difficult to block EU decisions…
If you want to get anything done in the EU, you need to get others to work with you. For Le Pen, this may be easier said than done. The far-right candidate has good relations with at least two member-state leaders: Hungary’s Orban and Poland’s Morawiecki. Le Pen first met Orban when he invited her to Budapest in October 2021. She has met Morawiecki several times over the past years, most recently at a summit he organised for leading European nationalist and far-right figures in December 2021. There is no doubt that both leaders would bank on France’s support in their battle against the European Commission overrule-of-law proceedings (if the Commission is successful, Hungary and Poland could be denied access to certain EU funds).
However, it’s hard to see how France, Poland and Hungary could block EU legislation outright. For starters, they aren’t all on good terms, with Poland recently threatening to freeze diplomatic relations with Hungary over its support for Russia. Likewise, Poland and Hungary - who are net recipients of EU funds - may not appreciate Le Pen’s proposal to drastically reduce France’s contribution to the EU budget. What’s more, most Council decisions - i.e. between the 27 member states - have decided to use the qualified majority voting rule. That means that France, Poland and Hungary would need to secure the support of other member states to block an EU proposal (this majority would need to represent at least 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the total EU population).
… but that doesn’t mean Le Pen can’t weaken the EU
There are, however, other ways that Le Pen could disrupt the EU from the inside.
She could try to delay discussions and negotiations inside the Council in a bid to extract concessions. If that fails, she could kick up a fuss and publicly blame Brussels. To avoid this, member states like Germany would try to appease France by stretching out talks as much as possible. But EU divisions would start to appear, making it much harder for the EU to get things done. The pace of the EU’s work would slow right down.
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