MEP Nathalie Loiseau: France ′is not in chaos′ | World | Breaking news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 22.01.2020

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MEP Nathalie Loiseau: France 'is not in chaos'

Talking on DW's Conflict Zone, the former French minister for European Affairs defended President Emmanuel Macron's record and said controversial reforms in her country are working.

Watch video 26:06

Nathalie Loiseau on Conflict Zone

France has been badly affected by strikes and nationwide protests against the government, but former minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau defended President Emmanuel Macron by saying he has been reforming the country "with a steady path."

Talking to DW's Conflict Zone host Tim Sebastian in Brussels, Loiseau rejected the notion that the country is in chaos and said reforms in France are working.

"There is no strike anymore in railways or public transportation and there will be the most ambitious pension system reform for decades," said Loiseau, who is now a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the liberal Renew Europe group.

"We are the second most attractive country in the EU for foreign investors, we have one of the highest growth rates in the EU, we have a number of unemployed which is decreasing steadily," she added.

Loiseau also "strongly denied" a report last year by France's independent human rights watchdog, theDefenseur des Droits de l'Homme, which detailed the emergence of what it described as a policy of "reinforced security and repression" in the country.

Tim Sebastian also mentioned the fact that both the UN and the Council of Europe criticized what they saw as disproportionate use of force against demonstrators on the streets of France.

But according to Loiseau, "there was disproportionate violence in my country and there were casualties caused by (...) blockades by yellow vests."

"Can, should we forget about it? (...) I will never, because I was elected by my fellow citizens."

Loiseau emphasized that freedoms "are respected and protected."

"Freedom to go on strike, that's fine, that's even constitutional in my country. But freedom not to go on strike should be protected as well. And freedom of movement should be protected as well," she added.

Read more: French President Emmanuel Macron: Is the honeymoon over?

Multilateralism or go it alone diplomacy?

Tim Sebastian pressed Loiseau, who was her country's minister for European Affairs between 2017 and 2019, on the strong perception that Macron has favored a go it alone diplomacy instead of the multilateral initiatives he claims to value.  

On Russia, for instance, there have been reports that Macron did not inform the German government, one of his closest allies, before calling for a new EU approach to Moscow.

Watch video 02:37

Nordstream 2 is nearing completion but controversy remains

Loiseau rejected this idea by saying that France is "fully in line with the European position in Ukraine, Crimea, Donbass and the rest."

"We have responsibilities, we defend European values, we carry (a) European voice and we share European positions," she stressed.

And regarding Germany, the former minister said she would have preferred not to see the Nord Stream 2 project "supported so heavily by Germany because it deepens our dependency on Russian gas."

"Emmanuel Macron said it very bluntly: it's not a question of concessions. It's a question of having our voice heard," she said.

A Brexit deal in eleven months?

Watch video 26:06

Brexit Special: How did we get here?

The former minister will also probably have her voice heard on Brexit, as she takes up a position on a new UK coordination group at the European Parliament, set up as part of the upcoming trade negotiations with Britain.

Loiseau admitted to Tim Sebastian that it won't be possible to get a deal "on everything" in eleven months and that it will "probably" be a bare-bones deal.

And she added that "there is no good Brexit."

"Brexit is bad whatever form it has, but protecting the rights of our companies, protecting our priorities, protecting the European project is key," said Loiseau.

"They have chosen in Britain to get out of the European Union. Fair enough."

"We have not chosen to destroy the EU on our side, and we will not", she concluded.

Read more: Can Britain really do the trade deal it wants with the EU?

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