12 far right extremists set to face trial in France over Macron attack plot

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor has recommended that 12 members of a far-right group stand trial for a planned a violent attack on President Emmanuel Macron in 2018.

12 far right extremists set to face trial in France over Macron attack plot
French President Emmanuel Macron pays his respect during ceremonies to mark the centenary of the First World War, in Douaumont, eastern France, on November 6, 2018. (Photo by Etienne LAURENT / EPA POOL / AFP)

The National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT) said 11 men and one woman should be tried on charges of criminal association of terrorists, in an indictment signed August 18 and seen by AFP on Wednesday.

A magistrate will make the final decision on whether to send the group — aged between 22 and 62 — to court.

Fourteen people were arrested in November 2018 and after nearly four years of investigation, the prosecutor recommended dropping proceedings against two.

The PNAT said the would-be militants, who started as a Facebook group and were known as the “Barjols” (Crazies), who planned the assault.

The prosecutor said the far-right group held meetings and carried out research and training and “developed a project of violent action” against the president.

Retiree Jean-Pierre Bouyer was the group leader, PNAT said, and in 2018 he drove to Moselle in eastern France where Macron attended a memorial on the centenary of the end of the World War I.

A dagger was later found in the vehicle Bouyer used, according to the indictment, and he allegedly held discussions about attacking the President with a ceramic knife that would be undetectable in security checks.

During their meetings, the idea of burning mosques, murdering migrants, kidnapping officials and manufacturing explosives was reportedly raised, according to PNAT.

The prosecutor said group members also participated in paramilitary training and held discussions it described as showing “racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-republicanism and neo-Nazism”.

France is still on edge after jihadists killed hundreds in 2015 attacks and a spate of isolated strikes at the end of 2020.

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French minister: US green plan should be ‘wake-up call’ for EU industry

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Friday said Washington's $430 billion plan to spur climate-friendly technologies in the United States must be seen as a wake-up call for Europe.

French minister: US green plan should be 'wake-up call' for EU industry

The EU “must be able to sweep in front of our own door” before worrying about the effects of the US climate plan on European industry, Le Maire told AFP in Washington, where he was part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s US state visit.

Even though the EU has already “changed its approach” on promoting green industry, the US climate plan must be seen as a “wake-up call” in the European Union, he added.

Le Maire’s comments came as EU countries have poured criticism on Washington’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), seeing it as anti-competitive and a threat to European jobs, especially in the energy and auto sectors.

Subsidies for green energy

The act, designed to accelerate the US transition to a low-carbon economy, contains around $370 billion in subsidies for green energy as well as tax cuts for US-made electric cars and batteries.

Macron on Wednesday slammed the plan’s “Made in USA” provisions as “super aggressive” for European businesses.

But at a joint press conference with Macron, Biden said that he and the French leader had agreed to “discuss practical steps to coordinate and align our approaches”, though he said he would not apologize for the US plan.

Biden added the IRA was never intended to disadvantage any US allies.

Threats of retaliatory measures

Last month, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton threatened to appeal to the World Trade Organization and consider “retaliatory measures” if the United States did not reverse its subsidies.

Le Maire also criticized the EU’s own climate spending plans, arguing that they were too cumbersome and loaded with red tape.

“If the ambition is the same” as the Europeans, the United States relies on methods that “are simpler and faster”, he said.

“They put immediate and massive tax credits where we provide state aid (to specific projects) which sometimes take two years to be adopted and are too complex to implement,” said Le Maire.