Macron Calls for European Defense Cooperation After U.K. AttackBy
U.K. Parliament returns to work Thursday after killings
French candidate says EU defense policy not yet ‘realistic’
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said he wants to increase defense cooperation with both the U.K. and Germany as Britain responds to its most deadly terrorist attack in more than a decade.
“I want more European defense but I’m a realist -- in coming years, there is little chance of making it effective,” Macron said Thursday on LCP television. “So I’m for structured cooperation with Germany and the U.K. and for much increased cooperation on intelligence sharing.”
The second terrorist incident in Europe in less than a week is forcing Macron -- now the favorite to become France’s next president -- to demonstrate that he fully masters defense and security issues. The 39-year-old candidate, running in his first ever political campaign, has significant experience on economic issues but no real track record on defense.
Four people including the attacker were killed and 29 injured after a car was driven into a fence outside Parliament in London Wednesday after running down civilians on Westminster Bridge. France has had more than 200 deaths at the hands of terrorists since the beginning of 2015 and an assailant with a gun was shot and killed by police at Paris’s Orly airport Saturday.
Defense and security are coming into focus as Macron emerges as the clear front-runner in France’s tumultuous 2017 presidential election campaign. A Harris Interactive poll published Thursday indicated the independent has the support of 26 percent of voters going into the first round of voting, compared with 25 percent for the National Front’s Marine Le Pen. Republican Francois Fillon is trailing in third place with 18 percent support. Macron would defeat Le Pen in the second round, the poll showed.
Macron also received the backing of Thierry Braillard, junior minister for sports, as well as Dominique Perben, who was justice minister under Jacques Chirac. Defense Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, will announce his endorsement later Thursday, Ouest France reported. Asked about the support on LCP, Macron said he was pleased they were coming from across the political spectrum and promised to recognize that in naming ministers if he becomes president.
“There will be a pluralist principle. That means there will be men and women in government that come from all political families,” Macron said.