Marine Le Pen could crack the Union – an expert has found
Brigid Laffan, director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, joined a chorus of worried voices insisting the controversial French presidential candidate could bring down the bloc.
Ms Laffan, an Irishman based at the European Institute in Florence, said 2017 is a “very important” yes for Brussels.
She said: “I would be absolutely terrified by a Le Pen win in France. If that happens, then I think the EU would face an impossible future.”
Marine Le Pen could pose a great threat to the European Union if she becomes president, experts say
However, the expert is convinced Ms Le Pen will not come out the overall winner.
Polls have her pegged to win the first round of the elections – but predict she will lose to Emmanuel Macron in the second round.
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron winning is vital for the European Union since its core relationship has recently been rocked, the expert told AFP.
Emmanuel Macron is tipped to become the next French president
The Franco-German relationship is the core relationship in the EU, the motor of integration and now there is some bad petrol in the engine and so both sides need to change
Ms Laffan said recent politics in EU leaders Germany and France caused bad feeling in the heart of Brussels.
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She said: “The Franco-German relationship is the core relationship in the EU, the motor of integration and now there is some bad petrol in the engine and so both sides need to change.
“France needs to become serious about its economic reforms, it can't survive unless it is.
“Germany, in the way it handled the crisis, was too wedded to a model of austerity, too wedded to a model of cutbacks, imposing adjustments on other countries.
“I think 2017 will a very important year for the EU, and I think it will be a good one.
“If someone like (Emmanuel) Macron is elected in France and there is a shift in domestic politics in Germany, there is a new bargain available between France and Germany.”
The EU is getting set to celebrate 60 years on Saturday since the founder members signed the Treaty of Rome which gave birth to the European Economic Community.
Things you didn't know about Marine Le Pen Mon, February 20, 2017
Marine Le Pen is a French politician who is the president of the National Front, a national-conservative political party in France and one of its main political forces.
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Described as more democratic and republican than her nationalist father, she has led a movement of "de-demonization of the Front National" to detoxify it and soften its image
European problems, Ms Laffan said, have been at their worst in recent years with multiple referenda, Brexit and the rise in populism.
She said: “Firstly the EU became a more powerful institution and had greater impact on its member states, and secondly we had the great recession.
“The global financial crisis really tested Europe's capacity to stay together, and just as the EU came out of that crisis – at least its acute phase – then it was hit by the refugee crisis.
“Responsibility lies all over. European institutions, Brussels… but of course, governments must also take responsibility for what they do in Brussels, and quite frequently they don't.
“Added to that you had a rise of populism and parties that combine being anti-EU and anti-migrants… and that's very powerful.”