INTERVIEW – The candidate for the presidency of the Republicans proposes his project for the European Union, facing that of Emmanuel Macron.
LE FIGARO. – Alain Juppé spoke of a “great central movement” for the Europeans. Was it a mistake?
Laurent WAUQUIEZ. – I have great respect for Alain Juppé. He wants to open a debate on Europe, so much the better! The political family that I want to rebuild should not be afraid of these debates. My vocation is to gather, including when different positions are expressed. The second debate opened by Alain Juppé is that of a large central party where the right and the socialists would coalesce around Emmanuel Macron. This is a big mistake for me. This unnatural alliance would pave the way for a right that does nothing, that no longer knows where its values are. Then, this single party would open a wide space to the extremes. And I know that Alain Juppé is very concerned about that. All my fight is to remember this evidence: the right is not soluble in En Marche! and French democracy needs the republican right. What I want to rebuild is an alternative to Emmanuel Macron; the French have the right to choose.
Do you advocate LR lists for Europeans?
Sure. And basically Alain Juppé himself clarified his thoughts. It is a profound mistake to begin to ask the question from the smallest end of the telescope, that of electoral alliances. The right cannot be a simple transfer of the vision that Emmanuel Macron carries. On the contrary, we have profound differences of approach.
What distinguishes your project from that of Emmanuel Macron?
Emmanuel Macron made three mistakes. First, it takes up all the clichés of European speeches since the 1950s. Its project consists in carrying on as if nothing had happened. But everything has changed. The people have expressed doubts, the United Kingdom is about to leave the European Union, which is less and less operational. We are on the edge of the abyss and Emmanuel Macron proposes to take a step forward and to enlarge the Union to the Balkans. On the contrary, I will propose that for the next mandate of the European Parliament there should be no further enlargement. Emmanuel Macron contemptuously refers all the doubts expressed by Europeans to sad passions instead of trying to understand them. Emmanuel Macron's second mistake is still not having understood that we will not make Europe against the peoples.
You were talking about three errors…
Its profound error is also to oppose French sovereignty to European construction when, on the contrary, it is necessary to marry them; it is to think that we must move towards ever greater federalism. On the contrary, I believe in the Union of Nation States.
What do you think of the one of Time who places Macron as the leader of Europe?
True leadership involves defending the interests of France! Leadership was when Nicolas Sarkozy presided over the European Union. When we go to sell off Alstom by making us believe that we are going to create a European giant, there is neither European leadership nor defense of French interests.
What European project are you defending?
I deeply believe that there is another path to be found between the technocratic federalism of Macron and the Frexit of The Pen et Mélenchon. We must get out of the opposition between pro-Europeans and Eurosceptics. Emmanuel Macron is wrong to oppose them. Me, I want to reconcile, to unite.
The risk of fracture is high on the right…
I do not believe that. The path that I propose is the reconciliation between the family descended from Monnet and the filiation of Séguin to get out of the abyss opened at the time of Maastricht. At the time, two blocks were sedimented: that of the pro-Europeans who ruled out making the slightest criticism of the European Union and that of the eurosceptics who gave the impression of wanting to kill Europe. The time has come to bring them together.
Doesn't Europe often serve as a scapegoat for politicians?
It's true. French politicians have loaded Europe with all the ills they were unable to deal with out of cowardice. Europe is not responsible for France's current difficulties. As François Fillon had understood, if France wants to change Europe, it must start by changing itself.
You are given the label of eurosceptic. Do you define yourself as "European"?
I reject the eurosceptic label; I am a convinced European. Faced with globalization and for France to weigh and protect itself, it is essential to lean on Europe, which must be a shield of protection and a driving force for conquest. But I refuse to continue as we have done for forty years. This is what has brought Europe to an impasse. If we want to save Europe, we must fundamentally rebuild it. I want France to take the initiative for a treaty to rebuild the European Union.
What would be the main pillars of this refoundation?
There are four main axes in my opinion. The first is to review the architecture of the European Union as proposed by Édouard Balladur. At twenty-seven, it doesn't work. I therefore propose to organize Europe around three circles. The first is a hard core, probably around twelve countries, in which we will have to go much further in terms of tax harmonization, labor law, social rules, to eliminate social dumping. Around, a second circle, that of the euro zone, in which the principal objective would be to reinforce all which makes it possible to support the euro and to make of it a monetary tool with the service of the creation of jobs and value. Then the third circle: a strengthened free trade area, in which it will be necessary to restore the powers of the Commission to the Member States if they so wish. And the United Kingdom would have its place there.
So is Brexit a mistake?
I am amazed to see that we are happy to separate from Europe's second largest economy! Thanks to this organization in circles, we could propose to the United Kingdom to reintegrate a European Union which would correspond to what its expectations are, without weakening what we want for Europe.
And the other axes?
The second thing I want is for Europe to reclaim its values and its civilisation. Emmanuel Macron is wrong: there is no European nation. On the other hand, there is a European civilisation. The European Union was built on a vision of an economic market, but we ended up forgetting the fundamentals of its humanist culture which are the basis of the European project: the Greco-Latin roots, the Judeo-Christian roots and the revolutions and enlightenment. They will have to appear in the treaty of refoundation. The third thing is to clean up the competences of the European Union and the projects. How long has it been since we succeeded in illustrating the contribution of the European Union through a major project?
What projects do you propose?
I suggest four. First, take a major initiative so that Europe is the first continent in the world to discover vaccines against neurodegenerative diseases and Alzheimer's. Second, that Europe take the initiative for full coverage of European territory in 4G, with a minimum speed of 30 gigas. Thirdly, Erasmus. Only 5% of a generation of students do Erasmus, it's abnormal. We should focus investments on youth, the future. Finally, that the European Union take on the construction of major facilities itself. All major European infrastructures are at a standstill because they depend on State co-financing. However, the EU can prove its usefulness here.
Where else is it useless?
There are areas where it doesn't work and we have to be able to get out of them without it being a tragedy. The Europe of immigration does not work! I recommend that France regain sovereignty over its migration policy and that we build a new Schengen, without this migration policy. Basically, a simple rule: wherever we are stronger together, we rely on Europe. Elsewhere, freedom. Finally, the last element of this overhaul, rediscovering the initial goal of Europe, defending our jobs, growing our businesses. This was the initial ambition of the founding fathers. Until Amsterdam, Community preference was set as one of the objectives of the European Union. I therefore want a "buy european act", which gives priority access to public markets, as the Americans do to defend their interests.
For this treaty of refoundation, are you in favor of a referendum?
Yes, because we are not building Europe against the opinion of the people.
On Europe, you have evolved…
At 18, I was a European federalist, I was convinced that my generation would be the one who would elect a president of Europe by universal suffrage. And believe me, I am unhappy about the loss of this European dream because I have European ambition in my body. But my conviction is that today this requires a discourse of lucidity and not of utopia which prevents Europe from opening its eyes to what is killing it. I was Minister for European Affairs, I saw the progressive ankylosis of Europe. I refuse the stall of Europe as I refuse that of France, it's the same fight. I am not a man of resignation.
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Source: Laurent Wauquiez: "We are not building Europe against the opinion of the people"