Marine Le Pen, the populist frontrunner in France’s presidential race, has declared that “the economic patriotism” she wants “is impossible in the European Union”.
In a candidates’ debate held before small and medium business owners, Ms. Le Pen told listeners her “economic project is resolutely oriented towards small and medium-sized enterprises”, which she described as “the [foundations] of the French economy”.
She claimed her programme would ensure that SMEs struggling to compete with foreign firms and large multi-nationals were awarded public procurement contracts “as a matter of priority” in line with the principles of “economic patriotism”.
She warned, however, that these policies would be “impossible to implement within the framework of the European Union”. It would, therefore, become necessary “to make choices” – an apparent reference to the possibility of a referendum of France leaving the EU.
The bloc imposes strong restrictions on “state aid” and requires national governments to seek permission from Brussels officials before they can take action to support the domestic economy.
Anna Soubry, an ardent europhile and Remain campaigner, blamed these “extremely strict state aid rules” for the closure of the SSI Redcar steel plant in 2015, when she was still industry minister, telling unemployed steel workers “our hands are tied”.
Ms. Le Pen also reiterated her calls for the reintroduction of the Franc, urging her rivals to “leave the strategy of fear” and acknowledge “the influence of [the euro] on the economic difficulties in France “.
The economic patriotism which I advocate is impossible within the European Union ! https://t.co/SdZi5vZxTQ
— Marine in English (@Marine2017_EN) March 6, 2017
Ms. Le Pen provided details for some of her economic policies on March 3rd, including a tax of up to 35 per cent on French companies producing goods outside the country and reimporting them; compensation for companies which respect the ‘Made in France’ label; and a drive to create jobs by “reconquering” markets.
“No country has ever succeeded in building its industry without protecting it,” she said.
These policies put flesh on the bones on the Trump-style “France First” philosophy which she set out in February, declaring herself “the candidate of the people”.
Globalism, she said, could be summed up as “manufacturing with slaves to sell to the unemployed”.
“The divide is no longer between the Left and the Right,” she asserted, “but between the patriots and the globalists”.