The former EU Brexit negotiator claimed that should he win the French presidential election next year, France would have the chance to “be respected” in the world. Mr Barnier argued that in a few decades the only country in Europe that could sit at the international political table is Germany unless France regains its political independence.
He said: “There is a table around which the world will be organised in the next 30 years and I talk about that because it concerns our children and our grandchildren.
“Around this table, we find the Americans, who have been there for a long time; the Chinese, soon the first power of the world; India; Russia; Brazil.
“We will be eliminated from this table.
“In 30 or 40 years only Germany will be there.
“Do we want to be at the table or not? I am a patriot, I am a Gaullist, I am European, because I want my country to be around that table.
“I don’t want France to be a spectator of decisions made by others. I did not join politics so that France would be a subcontractor of the Chinese and under the influence of the Americans.
“I have an ambition for my country. I want France to be respected.”
The comments were immediately picked up by Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois who pointed out the former EU Commissioner worked very hard for EU integration until he was in Brussels.
“I would be wary of an excess of repentance and an excess of arrogance,” he concluded.
Asked about his proposal for a moratorium on immigration of three to five years, if elected, Michel Barnier said that it was “time to have a dialogue with Algeria and other countries in Africa or the Middle East.”
“These countries must readmit […] their citizens, who are no longer welcome here,” he said.
Mr Barnier surprised everyone in September by calling for the restoration of French national sovereignty on migration issues.
“Each country has its national sovereignty, it is not a question of giving it up.” “We need a nation to fight nationalism,” he added.
Faced with Poland’s attack on the European treaties, raising fears of a possible “Polexit”, Michel Barnier said: “The Poles agreed 17 years ago to join the European Union, they wanted to, nobody forced them.”
Considered one of the main favourites for the LR nomination at the December congress, but lagging behind in the polls for the presidential election, Michel Barnier declared “it is not the polls that will choose our candidate, but the militants.”
In addition, assessing the performance of Emmanuel Macron, he said that “this five-year period was the five-year period of missed opportunities.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega