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European elections: Macron’s party makes ecology a manifesto priority

media Nathalie Loiseau, head of the Renaissance list, is struggling to drum up support DAMIEN MEYER / AFP

The ruling Republic on the Move (LaREM) party has given environmental issues pride of place in its European elections manifesto. Criticised for neglecting the environment during the recent Great Debate, President Macron needs to get more green votes if his “Renaissance” list is to beat the far-right National Rally.

The "Renaissance" list for the European elections, made-up of Republic on the Move (LREM) and two right and centre parties, unveiled its 33-page election manifesto on Wednesday.

The first part is devoted to the environment.

“We want to make ecology a priority once more in the European budget,” Renaissance candidate Gilles Boyer told France Inter radio Thursday morning.

Climate bank and European minimum wage

Future Macroniste MEPs will back a 1,000 billion euros investment plan over five years, equal to 40 percent of the EU's budget.

The manifesto says it will be used for “the development of clean energies and transport, housing renovation and helping workers to change job sectors”.

Like the EELV ecology party, the Renaissance manifesto supports the creation of a European "climate" bank: a measure already published in Macron's “letter" to the people of Europe in March.

Social and fiscal justice

The second part of the manifesto called "Building a Europe of social and fiscal justice" includes Macron's other promise for an EU tax on high tech companies, an end to the rule for unanimity on taxation questions, and the harmonising of corporation tax.

There’s also a proposal to introduce a European minimum wage which would be “adapted to each country”.

Defence and immigration in Europe

Renaissance promises to invest massively in strategic sectors such as renewable energies, AI and 5G. And confirms its plan to work towards a European army.

In marked contrast to the far-right National Rally (RN) and mainstream right Republicains (LR), the issue of immigration is not mentioned until page 18 of the 33-page document, suggesting the ruling party is reaching out more to the left than the right.

Nathalie Loiseau, the former European Affairs minister heading up the Renaissance list wants to "preserve Schengen" and create a “European asylum office to harmonise asylum criteria”.

The last part of the manifesto on “European identity” advocates tripling funding for the Erasmus student exchange programme, extending it to middle school and apprentices.

Struggling in the polls

Two years into his mandate, Emmanuel Macron’s popularity is stagnating at around 30 percent, down from 60 when he came into office. Neither the Notre Dame fire nor his promised tax cuts in response to the Yellow Vest protests seem to have boosted his ratings.

So his party needs to perform well on the European elections of 26 May.

The manifesto is clearly reaching out to green and left-leaning voters. But the other troubling issue is turnout.

Current polls suggest only around 40 percent of French voters plan to go to the polls this time around compared to 44 percent in 2014 and 74.5 percent in the 2016 presidentials.


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