The European Union must stop being nit-picky and intrusive, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday as the bloc scrambled to handle the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave.
The European Union must stop being nit-picky and intrusive, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday as the bloc scrambled to handle the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave.
The Brexit vote to leave the EU has deepened fears among mainstream politicians across Europe about the rise of eurosceptic, anti-establishment parties, particularly in France, where the far-right National Front is increasingly popular.
That concern has also prompted mainstream French politicians on the left and right to call for an overhaul of Europe, in a country where surveys show disillusionment with Brussels is growing.
“We must put an end to this sad and finicky Europe. Too often it is intrusive on details and desperately absent on what’s essential,” Valls said. “We must break away from the dogma of ever more Europe. Europe must act not by principle but when it is useful and pertinent.”
While a large majority of French are attached to EU membership, polls over the past few years have consistently shown a majority also want Europe to have fewer powers, said Francois Miquet-Marty, head of the Viavoice polling institute.
Only one on five voters want “more Europe”, Miquet-Marty said.
Long in the EU’s driving seat alongside the bloc’s power-house Germany, France, dogged by a poor track-record on abiding by the EU’s fiscal rules, has been steadily less active on the EU scene over the past years.
In his speech on Sunday in Normandy, Valls insisted Europe “is not about seeing sovereign states disappear.”
He also said Europe must defend its economic interests better, on trade matters but also on financial, social, environmental and cultural issues. “Europe must be firm,” he said.