EU leaders give mixed reaction to 1st round of French election outcome

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 00:20:08|Editor: Yamei
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File photo taken on Feb. 4, 2017 shows French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron addressing a campaign rally in Lyon, France. Centrist candidate and former minister of economy Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on Sunday came out on top in the first round of the French presidential election, according to projections by several pollsters. (Xinhua/Han Bing)

BRUSSELS, April 25 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) leaders have given a mixed reaction to the outcome of the first round of French presidential election which saw anti-euro far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron surge through to the decisive second round in May.

Reaction to France's first round of voting was swift. A European Commission spokesman tweeted that its president Jean-Claude Juncker had "congratulated" Macron "for his result at the first round and wished him good luck for the rest." The commission usually avoids commenting on on-going national elections.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier described Macron as a "patriot and European" who he felt confident would win out in the run off round with Le Pen on May 7.

"France must remain European," Barnier said.

"This campaign has been strongly influenced by the debate around Europe," said leaders of the Greens-European Free Alliance in the European Parliament, Ska Keller and Philippe Lamberts, in a statement.

Voicing support for Macron, the statement said the group called on the centrist candidate to strengthen his program, especially with regard to social justice and the ecological transformation of Europe.

"We need France to be a leader in these areas," said the statement.

Dutch far-right populist Geert Wilders, however, welcomed Le Pen's success as a "bright day for patriots in France and elsewhere who want more national sovereignty and less EU and immigration."

"Now on the way to a vigorous second round, I am hoping for a president Le Pen," said Wilders, whose party produced a disappointing result in the Dutch elections earlier this year.

French election was also closely followed by Germany, which awaits its federal elections in September, and prompted immediate response from German politicians.

"These elections are now about Europe as a whole," said Sven Giegold, German Member of European Parliament (MEP).

"The 21 percent vote for Le Pen is also a result of German politicians' lecturing attitude towards others in Europe," he added.

Meanwhile, Martin Schulz, Germany's Social Democrat candidate and former president of the European Parliament, said he hoped Macron would win the second round with a broad majority to defeat the "anti-European" Le Pen.

"We can not underestimate the mobilization required to ensure that Macron also wins the second round ... That's what has to happen now," Schulz said.