Whirlpool stirs up the French election campaign
The debate over the future of the Whirlpool plant in Amiens has become a major topic in the final sprint of the French presidential race. The US company plans to transfer production from the French city to Lodz in Poland. Macron and Le Pen both travelled to Amiens last week, and during an election rally Macron promised sanctions against Poland should he be elected. Commentators in Eastern Europe take issue with this.
Macron using demagoguery
Macron's promises incite hostility towards Eastern Europe, the Romanian service of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle points out:
“The candidate representing European liberalism, the man on whom all pro-European channels are heaping praise, accuses a country in Eastern Europe of stealing Western Europe's industry because it has lower taxes. A decision can't be made unilaterally in the case of Poland or any other state. If we look at Article 7 of the EU Treaty [which deals with sanctions against member states] we see that the procedure is in fact extremely complicated. … As far as differences in taxation between EU countries are concerned, Macron is using a completely demagogic approach. Poland doesn't even belong to the Eurozone and naturally it is trying to maintain its advantages, otherwise its dream of catching up with Western Europe will remain nothing but an illusion. In this context the disproportionate songs of praise for Macron at the European level are more a reason for concern than anything else.”
Will France become Poland's enemy?
Polish-French relations stand to worsen under Macron, Rzeczpospolita fears:
“Macron would like to get rid of cheap Polish labour and take steps to prevent more factories from being moved from France to Poland. Nevertheless he is shying away from openly calling for the dismantlement of the single market. For that reason he has announced that he would be spearheading the squadron that holds Poland accountable for actions taken against the Constitutional Tribunal. It's strange that his ideas have been applauded in our country by opponents of the PiS. Because the PiS won't be in power forever, but any limitation of the free movement of people and services is likely to last for a long time. If these ideas don't die out with the end of the election campaign and Macron becomes president, the dreams of close Polish-French cooperation - particularly in the area of security - will also die.”