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‘To exit Europe, is to exit history,’ France's Hollande warns

© Photo: AFP

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2014-05-09

President François Hollande on Thursday blasted rising anti-EU rhetoric in France as anachronistic and financially ruinous, less than three weeks before European elections.

“To exit Europe, is to exit history,” Hollande wrote in a fiery commentary published in newspaper Le Monde on the anniversary of the Allied victory against Nazi Germany in World War II.

Hollande noted that the European Union had risen from the ashes of WWII expressly to bring peace and economic stability to the continent – goals he said the EU had achieved.

“Whom do we owe for this incredible rebirth, this exceptional renaissance? To the union! To the union of citizens, the union of economies, the union of nations,” he wrote.

Quoting from another Socialist, former French president François Mitterrand, Hollande added: “Nationalism means war!… Europe means peace.”

His strong pro-EU statement comes amid opinion polls that reveal that France’s far-right, anti-euro National Front (FN) is the frontrunner in this month’s European parliamentary elections.

Hollande is struggling with the worst approval ratings of any French president in modern history, and last month saw his Socialist Party (PS) suffer a humiliating defeat in nationwide municipal elections.

On the other hand, the anti-immigration FN - which champions dumping the common currency and Europe’s open borders policies – won an unprecedented 11 mayoral posts and over 1,400 seats on municipal councils.

Front National threat

A survey by French polling firm Harris Interactive published on Wednesday showed the FN is on track to win 22 percent of the European election votes in France. The conservative main opposition Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) polled 21 percent of votes, with only 17 percent for Socialist candidates.

The president hit back at the FN's idea that leaving the euro would make France more competitive, claiming such a move would fuel inflation and cripple the country’s ability to trade with other states.

In his appeal, Hollande regretted that the EU had not done enough in some areas, particularly in creating jobs for young people, and that it was encumbered by complicated rules.

However, he said it was up to voters to fix and re-build the EU as they saw fit, not move backwards in history by tearing it apart.

Date created : 2014-05-08

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