In debate, Le Pen criticizes EU-Mercosur agreement and competition with Brazilian chicken production

Guerra na Ucrânia, União Europeia e economia estiveram entre os temas principais do debate entre Macron e sua adversária no segundo turno na eleição francesa

War in Ukraine, the European Union and the economy were among the main themes of the debate between Macron and his adversary in the second turn in the French election| Photo: EFE/EPA/LUDOVIC MARIN

The two candidates that next Sunday (24) will contest the second round of the French presidential election, the right-wing Marine Le Pen and the centrist and current president Emmanuel Macron, held a debate on this Wednesday (20) in which the war in Ukraine, the European Union and the economy were among the main themes.Le Pen, who has already praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, congratulated Macron for his attempts to broker peace in Eastern Europe and for imposing sanctions on Moscow.

“The only sanction I disagree with is blocking from importing Russian gas and oil. It is not the right method, it will not harm Russia and, above all, it will harm the French a lot. We cannot commit harakiri with the hope of harming Russia, which will sell its gas and oil to another country,” said Le Pen, who alleged fears that closer rapprochement between Russia and China “could pose a great danger to France and Europe.”

Macron, in turn, accused the opponent of “depending” on Putin: he recalled that Le Pen recognized the result of the plebiscite that approved the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and mentioned that the right-wing candidate’s party, the National Regroupment, obtained loans from Kremlin-linked banks.

In response, Le Pen showed a post of his on Twitter by

, in which he said he supported a “free” Ukraine. Regarding loans, he claimed that it was the alternative that the party found after refusals by French banks.
Macron also attacked the rightist regarding the European Union, claiming that Le Pen still wants the French exit from the bloc “but he doesn’t say that anymore”, and defended the integration between member countries. “We need a stronger, more integrated Europe, with a little more confidence,” Macron said.

Le Pen argued that he intends to keep France in the European Union if elected, but said he wants more respect for the country’s internal decisions. “I would like the European Commission to respect sovereign nations, respect the choice of the French, including their social choices,” he said.

When criticizing EU agreements with other countries and blocs, Le Pen referred to negotiations with Mercosur and mentioned Brazil. “I disagree on several points, in some free trade agreements, in which farmers [franceses] are sacrificed to compete with Brazilian chickens”, he highlighted.

In the part of the debate where they addressed domestic economic issues, Le Pen accused Macron of having created an additional debt of 480 billion euros, “two thirds of which have absolutely nothing to do with [o enfrentamento à] Covid-”. Macron claimed that only 23 billions of euros are direct debt of the State and the rest is related to Social Security, due to aid during the pandemic. Macron’s proposal to raise the minimum retirement age to

to 23 years for those who want to receive the full amount of the benefit was classified by Le Pen as an “unbearable injustice”.

The two candidates also discussed taxation, with the current president maintaining that his opponent’s program brings “hidden taxes” to fund pensions and Le Pen claiming that fossil fuel tax increases and tax reforms and Social policies proposed by Macron led to the Yellow Vests movement.When the current president defended the need to accelerate efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the right-wing candidate responded that the population with lower purchasing power is the one who suffers the most from the “punitive ecology”. “Yes to this transition, but at the right time, much more gradual than what is being imposed on the French”, he said.

On another sensitive topic, Le Pen reiterated his proposal to ban the use of the Islamic veil in public spaces and the expulsion of foreign criminals, but highlighted that it is not “at war” against Muslims. Macron countered that “you cannot divide France and send millions of French people back [para outros países] for their religion”.

In the first shift, held on the day 04 of April, Macron obtained 24,2022 % of votes, and Le Pen, 23,480 %. Polls released this Wednesday show the current president with an advantage of another ten percentage points for the second round.

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