“The European Union, like the Soviet Union, is beyond repair. I want to bring Europe back to being a union of sovereign nations,” Le Pen told RFI on Tuesday, predicting that the EU will “collapse as the Soviet Union collapsed”.
This week has seen protests against hundreds of job losses in food-processing plants in Brittany, western France, while telecoms giant Alcatel-Lucent said it will shed 10,000 jobs worldwide and the Atixis bank on Wednesday announced that it hopes to declare 700 redundancies.
Le Pen blamed the jobs crisis on “unfair competition” from countries both inside and outside the EU, ranging from Germany to China.
Protesting workers “understand that we need borders, they’ve understood that we need intelligent protectionism,” she said.
And she was quick to throw immigration into the mix, adding that France cannot “take in all the Roma of Europe”.
With disappointment in the Socialist-led government’s record widespread and the mainstream right-wing UMP still reeling from a divisive leadership contest, Le Pen has striven to play up the FN’s anti-establishment image.
As UMP leaders have taken up much of the far-right party’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, the main difference between the two parties is Europe and the FN’s anti-EU stance has won it support in areas that have seen industry devastated.
“The European Union is an international anomaly,” Le Pen, herself an MEP, told RFI. “There is no area of the world that is open in the way the European Union is.”
And she promised prosperity for a post-EU Europe.
“The collapse of the Soviet Union doesn’t mean that the countries that made up the Soviet Union are dead,” she insisted. “They are living again. That’s what I’m proposing to Europe. To live again. To develop again. To return to prosperity and security in a context of cooperation between nations that are free to cooperate on a project or not cooperate if they think it’s not in the interest of their peoples.”