Jean Asselborn: EU may reassess after elections

The longest-standing foreign affairs minister in Europe has hit out at the prospect of hard-right politician Marine le Pen gaining power in France, insisting “we don’t need” her in a Europe she wants to “destroy”.

Luxembourg’s foreign and European affairs minister Jean Asselborn, who has been in office since 2000, made the remark as he said the EU may need to reassess where it is “at the end of autumn” when the outcome of French, German, Dutch, and Czech elections are known.

Speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle after a bilateral meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Mr Asselborn said the French election on April 23 will be “crucial” for the direction the rest of the EU takes.

Specifically raising Ms le Pen and the possibility of her Front National rising to power, Mr Asselborn — who was described by Mr Flanagan as “the father” of foreign ministers and “a man of influence and knowledge” — said this would be disastrous for the EU.

“In France, it is crucial,” he said. “We don’t need in Europe Le Pen, and France doesn’t need Le Pen. We have to defend our values in the EU, and Le Pen wants to destroy our values.”

Mr Asselborn said similar issues in upcoming elections in Germany and the Czech Republic later this year pose similar risks which cannot simply be resolved by a “declaration from Rome that we can fix the EU” next month.

While insisting “[Geert] Wilders will never be prime minister” in the Netherlands, where the far-right politician is gaining ground, he admitted that “at the end of autumn we will see where we are with the EU”.

The comments were made as Mr Flanagan pressed home the need to prevent a hard border returning to the North, an issue Mr Asselborn supported during a visit to Cavan-Monaghan yesterday.

Separately, both politicians said Ireland and Luxembourg — two countries which will be in direct competition for companies fleeing Britain over Brexit — must ensure it is on a “level playing field” after insurer AIG controversially chose Luxembourg earlier this week.

Asked about the post-election situation in the North, Mr Flanagan said he believes the parties can come to an agreement within two weeks, thereby avoiding a second election.


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