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Emmanuel Macron Declared French President After Running Pro-European Campaign


Emmanuel Macron entered his victory celebration last night at The Louvre to the strings of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy." It is the anthem of the European Union. What is Macron's election likely to mean for his country's relations with the EU? We're going to ask Sylvie Kauffmann, who is a columnist and editorial director of the French daily newspaper Le Monde. Welcome to the program once again.

SYLVIE KAUFFMANN: Good to be with you.

SIEGEL: If Marine Le Pen had won the presidency of France yesterday, we'd be writing obituaries for the European project, the decades of deepening ties among member countries. Can France's partners now say we've dodged a bullet; nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment have peaked; we can go back to business as usual?

KAUFFMANN: I don't think it will be business as usual anymore. I think this has been a very serious warning to all member states of the European Union and certainly to Germany, who - which is the - France's biggest, most important partner in the EU. So Emmanuel Macron is definitely looking for a reformed EU, as he said, and he's looking for changes. So in the - he wants a more united union and definitely a more integrated eurozone, but I think he's going to ask for a few reforms as well.

SIEGEL: And it's evident to you what those reforms would be.

KAUFFMANN: He has been focusing on the eurozone. That's one thing. You know, there are - there's the eurozone, which is smaller than the European Union. And of course this is an important thing because the member states which are outside the eurozone may be a little bit worried about this. But he wants to start with the eurozone, which means that he will take this to Berlin very soon.

What he wants - he wants a government for the eurozone. He wants a minister of finance for the eurozone, a treasury of the eurozone, a budget of the eurozone. And he wants a European monetary fund to be able to face crises should new crises, like the Greek crisis, arise and to help the euro.

SIEGEL: When we say the eurozone, we're talking about those countries which use the euro as their currency. That is not synonymous with membership in the European Union.

KAUFFMANN: The European Union has 28 member states and 27 soon when the United Kingdom is gone. The eurozone has 19 member states, which means that 19 of those 28 member states use the euro as the common currency.

SIEGEL: So Macron is poised to initiate reforms in France and to propose reforms for the European Union. Do you think the rest of the European Union is ready for - to receive those proposals and to act on them?

KAUFFMANN: I think it depends on which member states we're talking about. Germany is definitely interested in talking about reforms in the European Union, as several northern states are also interested. I think there is an awareness within the European Union that things cannot go on like this forever because the - this populist wave has been really powerful also here in the continent.

Though we have managed to stop it in a way in - with the Dutch election, with the Austrian election and now the French, but those parties are very - are still powerful. You see that the National Front got 34 percent of the vote in this election, so it's not like it's completely erased. The threat is there, and the euro skepticism is there.

And there is - there has been deep anger against globalization, against Europe. So the governments of most member states of the European Union know that, and they know that it is - that the threat is there and that they have to fight it. And the only way to fight it is to reform the European Union.

SIEGEL: Sylvie Kauffmann of Le Monde who spoke with us from Paris, thank you very much for talking with us again.

KAUFFMANN: Good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.