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POLITICS

Macron calls to add abortion and climate protection to EU Charter

French President Emmanuel Macron told the EU Parliament that he would seek to enshrine the right to abortion and environmental protection into the EU charter.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the EU parliament.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would push for the right to have an abortion and environmental protection enshrined in the EU charter. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday he would push to have the right to abortion and defence of the environment added to the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, as his country takes on the bloc’s rotating presidency.

“We must update this charter to be more explicit on protection of the environment, the recognition of the right to abortion,” Macron told lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France.

READ MORE What does it mean for France to take over EU presidency?

“Let us open up this debate freely with our fellow citizens… to breathe new life into the pillar of law that forges this Europe of strong values,” he said.

The call to enshrine a woman’s right to abortion in the European Union’s charter, ratified by member states in 2000, comes just a day after the parliament elected Malta’s Roberta Metsola, a staunch abortion opponent, as its president. 

Macron nonetheless congratulated Metsola on her election in his opening remarks, acknowledging her belief in “our Europe, this Europe sustained by the values that bind and unite us.”

He also urged lawmakers to accept “this task of ours, and surely of our generation, to respond profoundly to the renewal of its promises.”

Macron also said on Wednesday that Europeans needed to build a new “security and stability framework” that would require “strategic rearmament” as well as “frank and demanding” talks with Russia.

“We need to build it between us Europeans, share it with our allies in NATO, and propose it for negotiation to Russia,” he said. 

Member comments

  1. It’s not a ‘Europe of strong values’. Far from. It’s a Europe of compromises. And when something is too difficult to compromise on , it’s left unfinished, like the single currency. The Catholic conservatives of Eastern Europe will not agree with Macron on abortion and consequently he’s setting up a fight he can’t win. The real question is why would he do that.

      1. Perhaps seeing what is happening in the US and the attack on women’s rights all over the world has triggered Macron, no doubt suggested by lawyers, to make sure some things are laid down in law.

        Codified law is always stronger than law through jurisprudence, judges’ statements. That is the main difference between legal systems in Europe, and subsequently South America and former Eastern Europe, including Russia, and the Anglo-saxon world. In the US they only need to overturn one judge’s ruling, which is easier than retracting a decades old law, debated in parliament and voted on by elected officials.

        Although abortion seems to me last resort when anti-conception has failed. Therefore a right to (free) anti-conception would seem more positive.

        1. In Poland, abortion on demand is seen as akin to euthanasia. There is no possibility that they would agree to Macron’s suggestion.

          1. It’s worth a try though. Draw clear boundaries around what is considered civilised in Europe. It seems that Trump’s people visit Hungary to see how they can copy his strategy in moving from a democracy into an authoritarian state. That shows, I would think, that we don’t take Hungary as the starting point for our own policies. And, it needs just one election, and Hungary could be back on the road to democracy again.
            I think it’s good Macron and France do something ambitious, and not just six months of “care-taking”. Otherwise it’s an example of “don’t stand up, you’re rocking the boat”.

    1. Perhaps he’s doing it because he believes that women should have a right to decide what they want to do with their own body’s, and good luck to him.

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POLITICS

Awkward anniversary as French far-right marks 50 years

France's far-right leader Marine Le Pen said her anti-immigration party was "ready to govern" on Wednesday as it marked 50 years since its founding, an awkward anniversary that has highlighted her troubled relationship with her father.

Awkward anniversary as French far-right marks 50 years

The party’s financial difficulties and the continuing bitterness and rivalry inside the Le Pen family clan mean there are no major celebrations for the half-century landmark.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father and the co-founder of the National Front in 1972, has not been invited to a conference on Thursday which is the only event planned for the occasion.

“From a protest party, we have become a party that is ready to govern,” Marine Le Pen told parliament on Wednesday, with the reference to her father heading a mere “protest party” likely to further displease him.

“Today I wish to pay tribute to all of the activists that for 50 years have worked for the national cause,” she added.

After replacing Jean-Marie as head of the party after his nearly 40-year stint at the helm, Le Pen ejected him in 2015 as part of her strategy of cleaning up the National Front’s image.

Three years later, she changed the party’s name from the National Front to National Rally (RN) as a re-branding exercise intended to further distance herself from the legacy of anti-Semitism and racism associated with her father.

The move has paid dividends at the ballot box, moving the party from the fringes to the political mainstream.

At her third tilt at the presidency, Le Pen scored her party’s highest ever result in April, winning 41 percent of votes against President Emmanuel Macron who was elected for a second term.

Concerns about crime, immigration and the rising cost of living then saw her party increase its representation in parliament 10 fold in June elections to a historic high of 89 seats, making it the biggest opposition group.

“From hope to power, we continue!” the interim president of the party, Jordan Bardella, who replaced Le Pen when she stood for  the presidency, wrote on Twitter.

Moderate image?

Many far-right MPs and senior party figures were reportedly reluctant to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Front (FN) at all, given the associations with Jean-Marie who is viewed as toxic by a majority of the French electorate.

The low-level event on Thursday was seen as a compromise and will focus on the party’s success in spotlighting themes such as immigration, Euroscepticism, job losses due to globalisation, and Islamism.

Jean-Marie is to host a garden party later this month at the family’s chateau outside Paris.

“Marine Le Pen says today that thanks to the FN of her father, questions such as the immigration and the dangers of globalisation have been debated, but at the end of the day for 10 years she has been wearing herself out trying to get rid of her father’s provocative image on every issue,” wrote political journalist Alba Ventura at RTL radio.

After the parliamentary elections in June, Le Pen ordered her new MPs to dress smartly for parliament and is determined to position her party as the most credible opposition party to Macron’s centrist alliance.

According to a major polling study published this week by Le Monde newspaper and the Cevipof political research group in Paris, the hard-left France Unbowed opposition group was seen as “too radical” by 53 percent of French people.

Only 34 percent thought the same of Le Pen’s party.

Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the far-right at the left-leaning Jean-Jaures Foundation, a think-tank, said Le Pen had partially succeeded in distancing herself from her father.

“It’s impossible to completely cut off one’s filiation and the RN can never escape history. But afterwards you’re not defined your whole life by your beginnings,” he told AFP.

If Le Pen become French president one day, it would mark a political earthquake for Europe.

“At some point, if you cultivate your ground for 50 years with a certain zeal, you could end up with the conjunction of a man or a woman and a moment,” Camus said.

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