politics

Macron’s top candidate for EU election says she’s ‘proud’ of Green Deal and ‘appalled’ by far-right campaign

PARIS — The candidate chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron to lead his party in June’s European elections has declared herself “proud” of the bloc’s Green Deal despite the anger it has provoked among farmers across the continent.

Speaking to POLITICO at an event in Paris, Valérie Hayer also said she was “dismayed” by her far-right rival Jordan Bardella’s decision to skip the debates, a strategy reminiscent of the approach of the former US President Donald Trump during the ongoing Republican primary.

“He is approaching this campaign the same way he approached his European mandate: without any respect for the French people,” Hayer said of Bardella, 28.

Hayer, president of the Renew group in the European Parliament, used the interview to double down on his record of centrism and compromise while describing Macron’s Renaissance party as one capable of passing laws and getting things done in Brussels .

She cited her efforts to secure the Common Agricultural Policy budget, ensuring that French farmers would continue to receive billions of euros in subsidies.

Farmers have been protesting for months across Europe to complain about excessive red tape and burdensome environmental standards such as the Green Deal, which they say are affecting their livelihoods. The demonstrations caused significant disruption, particularly in France.

In a bid to appease farmers, Macron relaxed pesticide controls in France while Commission President Ursula von der Leyen canceled green farming rules and restricted food imports from Ukraine which many believe undercut European prices.

Hayer, who grew up on a dairy farm in western France, said the protests were the result of both “national and European” policies. However, she insisted that EU agricultural policy worked for farmers and that the European Green Deal was not against their interests.

“I am proud of the Green Deal,” Hayer said, adding that she has “never pitted agriculture against the environment” or “pitted agriculture against Europe.”

It remains to be seen whether this argument will resonate with the agricultural community.

While Bardella’s slow pace in shaping European policy since his election to the European Parliament in 2019 has fueled criticism from opponents, his party, the National Rally (RN), appears poised to capitalize on growing discontent among farmers and others French rural communities.

Polls show the National Rally could win a landslide victory in the June 9 vote. The latest poll puts Hayer’s Renaissance at around 20 percent support and trailing the RN by around 10 percentage points.

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