French politicians slammed President Emmanuel Macron for proposing an open debate on a common European defence and defending the continent with nuclear weapons.

In an interview published by Ebra group media on Saturday, Macron suggested opening a debate on the idea that France could defend Europe with its nuclear warheads.

France can use its nuclear weapon “when its vital interests are threatened [and] I already said that there is a European dimension to these vital interests,” he said.

Macron then called for “opening the debate” on nuclear weapons “for those who possess them or have US nuclear weapons on their soil”.

“To go down this road is not being pro-European, because in fact, [Macron’s proposal] makes no sense,” reacted centre-right candidate for the EU elections François-Xavier Bellamy (Les Républicains, EPP) on Sunday in an interview.

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According to him, EU countries are already benefiting from French nuclear deterrence, while Macron’s suggestion to “pool [nuclear] deterrence in its practice” is “of exceptional gravity” as it touches the very heart of French sovereignty.

Far-right figurehead Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement National, ID) reacted on X, commenting that Macron’s agenda was “to dispossess the French people of everything they have built.”

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In March, Le Pen suggested that as President, she would not bow to the “EU’s greed” over the French nuclear arsenal and would suggest “that nuclear deterrence be enshrined in the Constitution as an inalienable element of [French] sovereignty.”

Fellow Rassemblement National MEP Thierry Mariani also commented on X, saying Macron was “becoming a national threat” and shared fears that after nuclear weapons, France might as well “sell off cheaply” to the EU  its permanent seat at the security council at the United Nations.

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On the left side of the political spectrum, Bastien Lachaud, MP and defence specialist of La France Insoumise (LFI, The Left), wrote on X that “nuclear deterrence is not for sharing.”

The National Assembly section of the LFI party then shared their  official position, stating that “there is no need to go further than the solidarity commitments already contained in the EU treaties.”

At the opposite end, the lead EU candidate for the Greens, Marie Toussaint (Ecologists, Greens), who is in favour of a “European federal lead,” said on France 3 that she favours “sharing the power of French weapons, including nuclear [weapons] as well.”

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