Both candidates in the French Presidential election have been throwing around the term ‘Frexit’, a possible French withdrawal from the EU which France founded as the then European Economic Community or Common Market in 1957.
Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron both approach the idea of Frexit from entirely different perspectives. Le Pen is France’s most prominent Eurosceptic politician who openly seeks to create a Europe that will be a partnership between ‘sovereign states’. Macron, the acrh-opportunist has now warned that Frexit could happen if the EU doesn’t engage in serious reforms.
Both politicians ought to understand that radical EU reforms and a formal Frexit would ultimately mean the same thing.
Unlike Britain which has always been something of a peripheral member of the EU, France along with Germany forms the EU’s core. France was there from the beginning and prior to Germany re-unification in 1989, France was not only the largest but most politically influential country in the union.
Unlike with Britain, a French exit from the EU would automatically change the very nature, purpose and future of the EU. This means that unlike with Brexit where both sides are acting as though they don’t need each other, in respect of Frexit, such things could simply not happen.
In this sense, French Euroscepticism is far more meaningful than British Euroscepticism. In reality, Macron will not be the candidate to approach anything remotely resembling Frexit. The candidate who is literally a former Rothschild banker does not actually want to reform the EU beyond certain measures to make it even more finance capitalist friendly than it all ready is. With Macron, the only thing he’d change would be offering more of the same.
Le Pen is totally different in this respect. Contrary to certain innuendo, Le Pen would not call for a Frexit referendum the moment she hypothetically takes office nor at any time close to that.
What would happen would be a kind of collective gasp from Brussels followed by intense backdoor diplomatic communications whereby the Brussels elite would have to mend fences with Marine Le Pen who for years they publicly derided.
Shortly thereafter, both sides would essentially be forced to have an open debate, one which because of France’s integral position in the EU, would likely be more honest and less bravado driven than the current shambolic and childish Brexit discussions.
It is very unlikely, even by the end of the first term of a Le Pen Presidency, that the EU would cease to exist. What is more likely is that a new compromise EU treaty could be on the table, one which rolls back some of the increased political and economic streamlining of the colossal Lisbon Treaty of 2007.
A new treaty would likely keep key provisions of the modern EU including free trade, Schengen, the Social Chapter and of course The Euro.
There could be, though even this is a stretch, be some mechanism put in place for countries to amicably leave the Eurozone whilst remaining in the EU. A lot of this depends on how serious Marine Le Pen is about France ditching the Euro and it also depends a great deal on Le Pen being able to work with generally anti-Euro left wing politicians in countries like Greece and Cyprus who have suffered the most because of the single currency.
In short, Macron’s talk on Frexit will likely amount to nothing. Le Pen’s could amount to a great deal, but not necessarily as much or as quickly as many pretend that it would.