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ELECTION

French minister: USA unlikely to be a friendly partner whoever wins election

The outcome of the presidential vote will have little impact on US-Europe trade relations, France's finance chief asserted on Wednesday, saying Washington is unlikely to drop its confrontational stance whether Donald Trump wins or not.

French minister: USA unlikely to be a friendly partner whoever wins election
France's finance minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

“Let's not kid ourselves. The United States has not been a friendly partner to European states for several years now,” Bruno Le Maire told Radio Classique.

“Whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump is elected by Americans tonight or tomorrow, nothing changes this strategic fact,” he said.

“The American continent has detached itself from the European continent.”

The US administration has inflicted billions of dollars' worth of tariffs on European imports over the past four years, with Trump claiming unfair barriers against American firms trying to compete on continental markets.

His administration has also targeted China, saying it too had caused the American trade deficit to plunge by blocking US goods even while exporting massively to the US.

“Fundamentally, the only shift in American thinking is with regards to China, their relations with China and Asia as a whole,” Le Maire said.

“Europe is now merely an adjustment variable for the United States,” he said.

French winegrowers have also been hit by tariffs in retaliation for France's efforts to make tech giants like Google and Facebook pay tax in the countries where they trade.

Member comments

  1. This is ridiculous. US trade policy under the Obama administration did not needlessly impose tariffs on European goods, nor discard strategic military alliances with France, the EU, or NATO. France was the US’s 8th-largest global trade partner for much of the Obama administration.

    Attempting to be nonpartisan in a strange pessimistic way is bizarre. Trump is a disaster for France, for the US, and for the world. A Biden win would lead to rapid removal of the wine tariff and reassertion of NATO responsibilities. Not sure what LeMaire is playing here, or if he’s just deeply mistaken.

    https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/02/11/fact-sheet-united-states-france-economic-and-commercial-partnership

  2. There are still some alive who remember why France needed the US. And many died trying to reclaim France’s independence.

  3. If I were a European, I know who I would want in the White House. It would help if Europe honored its NATO financial commitments under a Biden Administration. I would expect Trump to withdraw from NATO unilaterally and with no advance warning. If Putin then made a grab for the Baltic states, what would the EU do?

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POLITICS

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

Foreigners living in France could get the right to vote in certain elections if a newly-created bill passes through parliament.

Voting rights for foreigners in France back on political agenda

The newly elected president of the National Assembly’s law commission calmly lobbed a 40-year-old electoral hand-grenade into the political discourse of the summer – and then went on holiday.

Sacha Houlié, MP for the Vienne and a member of Macron’s LREM party, filed a bill on Monday that would, if passed, allow non-EU citizens living in France to vote and stand for office in local elections. 

Under current electoral legislation, only French citizens can vote in presidential and parliamentary elections; EU citizens in France can vote in local and European elections; and non-EU citizens have no voting rights in France whatsoever. 

EU citizens can also stand for office in local elections, but are barred from becoming mayor or running for a seat in the Assembly.

Since Brexit, Britons in France have not been allowed to vote in local or  local office, any many Brits who were on their local councils had to resign because they were no longer EU citizens.

Many countries limit voting for their citizens who are out of the country, so non-EU citizens living in France often do not have the right to vote in any country.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and the far-right Rassemblement National wasted little time criticising Houlié’s bill.

Darminin’s entourage said that the minister was “firmly opposed” to the idea.

The far-right party went further. “We have crossed the limits of indecency and incomprehension of what the French are asking for,” Rassemblement national spokesperson Laurent Jacobelli told Franceinfo, echoing the sentiment of the party’s interim president Jordan Bardella, who insisted the passing of the bill would mark the, “final dispossession of the French from their country”.

Houlié said: “The right to vote for European Union nationals in local elections already exists in France. No one is surprised that a Spaniard or a Bulgarian can vote in municipal elections. But it has surprised many people that the British can no longer do it since Brexit.”

Given the current shape of the Parliament in France, it seems unlikely that the latest bill will pass. But it is far from the first time it has been on the table.

François Mitterrand had pledged during his presidential campaign in 1981 to ensure “the right to vote in municipal elections after five years of presence on French territory.”

But, in the face of opposition from the right, he backed down from this particular promise. 

In October 2004, Nicolas Sarkozy, then Minister of the Interior, tried to move forward with an electoral plan that would have allowed non-EU citizens certain voting rights – but was blocked by his own UMP party.

François Hollande re-launched the proposal during his 2012 campaign, before quietly letting it go in the face of opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.

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