Macron Warns on U.S. Global Role, Welcomes Innovators to France

  • Independent vows to boost military spending at Lyon rally
  • Candidates fan out ahead of April’s first round of voting

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron told voters that the U.S. is giving up its role as global peace keeper and during a campaign rally in Lyon welcomed entrepreneurs disgruntled with President Donald Trump to France.

“The U.S. may be abandoning its historic mission of preserving world peace,” Macron told supporters. In this context, “France has an enormous responsibility.” 

Macron said that if elected, he would push French defense spending back above the threshold of 2 percent of GDP required of NATO member countries. The country’s military spending was an estimated 1.8 percent of GDP in 2015, NATO figures show, and was last above 2 percent in 2009.

In a wide-ranging speech that touched on everything from simplifying the country’s labor code to lengthening library opening hours, the independent also made several references to U.S. politics without mentioning Trump by name.

“There will be no wall in my program,” Macron said, adding that France’s Maginot Line defense, a series of concrete fortifications and weapons installations built after the First World War, failed to prevent Germany from invading in 1940.

‘Solemn Call’

Macron, 39, also made reference to disgruntlement in Silicon Valley, home to many U.S. technology companies, with Trump’s proposed immigration restrictions. After the president stopped entry to the U.S. of refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Google, Facebook, Salesforce and others railed against the move, saying it violated the country’s principles and risked hobbling its engine of innovation.

“In fact, I want to make a solemn call to all the researchers, academics, businesses who in the United States are battling obscurantism,” Macron said. “I want everyone defending innovation, excellence in the United States to hear us and see us: You now have, and you will have from next May, a motherland: France.”

Anti-immigrant candidate Marine Le Pen leads in polling for the first round of ballots on April 23, with about 25 percent support. Macron and Republican Francois Fillon are on about 20 percent, according to Ifop’s latestdaily tracking poll. Macron, a former economy minister under President Francois Hollande, and former Prime Minister Fillon would both beat Le Pen in a run off, according to a separate poll this week by Elabe.

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