Marine Le Pen winning the presidency of France will be “game over” for the European Union (EU), the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has said.
Speaking to an audience in Malta, Letta predicted: “You can have the end of Europe. I think the European Union can’t survive with Marine le Pen in the European Council representing France. It will be game over,” Euractiv has reported.
However, he added that he would be “very optimistic” if “a younger pro-European” were to win in France, as he believes the German election due later this year will return a pro-European leader.
Although Letta failed to mention him by name, his comments are likely a reference to the 39-year-old former socialist, now independent, candidate Emmanuel Macron who is widely expected to run off against Le Pen in the second round of voting on 7 May.
Macron met with British Prime Minister Theresa May last week at 10 Downing Street where he delivered a strongly pro-EU message, vowing to siphon off British professionals to France following Brexit.
“It will be part of my program to be attractive for these kinds of people,” he said, naming “banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on” as those he wants to attract.
Letta expressed enthusiasm for German politics, saying that Angela Merkel had grown more pro-EU than ever before. He also praised socialist Martin Shulz, Merkel’s main rival, describing him as an “unbelievable” political phenomenon for using his career in the European Parliament to his advantage in national politics.
But he believed the French elections would be more important than those in Germany. He affirmed France’s presence on the UN Security Council was now “crucial for the future” of international relations following Brexit and the election of Donald J. Trump as the U.S. president.
The EU must make more of an effort to prove to citizens that it is “useful”, he added, insisting the bloc is under attack.
For her part, Le Pen has promised to give the French people a vote on their country’s membership of the EU if she wins in a referendum modeled on that held in the UK last June. Unlike former Prime Minister David Cameron, who threw his weight behind the remain campaign, Le Pen has indicated she will lobby the French people for a Frexit during the vote.