European leaders congratulate Macron on re-election

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European leaders were quick to congratulate French President Emmanuel Macron for his election victory over his far-right rival on Sunday, some reflecting relief at avoiding a political shock in one of the European Union’s most pivotal countries.

European Council President Charles Michel, as well as the prime ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, were among the first to congratulate Macron, followed by almost all of the bloc's 27 leaders, after his win over Marine Le Pen by a comfortable margin.

"Bravo Emmanuel," Michel wrote on Twitter. "In this turbulent period, we need a solid Europe and a France totally committed to a more sovereign and more strategic European Union."

The prime ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, were among the first European leaders to congratulate French President Emmanuel Macron on his re-election on Sunday. Belgium's Alexander De Croo and Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel quickly posted congratulations on Twitter. With Michel, the two are all centrist allies of Macron.

After Britain's surprise vote to quit the EU and the election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016, the bloc was alarmed by Le Pen's potentially explosive social and economic reforms, even if polls showed Macron winning in Sunday's second round.

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France, a founding member of the EU, has been at the centre of efforts to integrate Europe since the end of World War Two, even if such policies have been divisive.

Having Le Pen, a deeply eurosceptic politician who has professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the Élysée Palace would have had huge implications for the stability of the EU, analysts and diplomats said.

Le Pen had long flirted with the idea of leaving the bloc, although she insisted she had no "secret agenda" this time for quitting the EU or the euro single currency.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, a French national, offered warm words for the pro-business Macron, saying "strong leadership is essential in these uncertain times."

The leaders of Sweden, Romania, Lithuania, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Greece, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen all reacted within about half an hour of the result with their congratulations.

"I look forward to continuing our extensive and constructive cooperation within the EU and NATO, and to further strengthening the excellent relationship between our countries," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also took to Twitter, "congratulating" Macron, saying he looks "forward to continuing to work together".

Congratulations to @EmmanuelMacron on your re-election as President of France. France is one of our closest and most important allies. I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world.


— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 24, 2022

Pro-EU moment 'must be seized'

Echoing the sentiment of many, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Europe was the biggest winner. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said French voters "have sent a strong vote of confidence in Europe today. I am happy that we will continue our good cooperation".

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who along with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is seen as forming a powerful trio of pro-EU leaders, also said the re-election was "wonderful news for all of Europe".

Many leaders referred to Macron as "cher (dear) Emmanuel".

The youthful centrist is one of the bloc's most pro-EU leaders, credited by many as having the vision to help it stand up to China's rise and Russia's military threat.

Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, tweeted his congratulations to Macron: "The citizens have chosen a France committed to a free, strong and fair EU. Democracy wins. Europe wins." Sanchez on Thursday wrote a joint op-ed in French daily Le Monde with Portugal's Antonio Costa and Scholz criticising Le Pen and urging people to vote for Macron.

"The chance that there will be pro-European governments in France and Germany for at least the next four years must be seized," Anton Hofreiter, chairman of the Europe Committee in the German Bundestag, said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said France had chosen "liberal democracy over the far-right". Uniting the French and "taking courageous decisions for the climate", were important tasks ahead, he added, calling for closer cooperation in Europe and "unity against authoritarian forces and war".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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