Emmanuel Macron: Polls show Marine Le Pen's popularity rising

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France and Germany were considered key decision-makers in the Brexit process. In December, the two sides were said to be at odds over what concessions the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier should have given Britain. France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune warned Paris would veto a “bad” post-Brexit trade deal.

Mr Beaune said: “I want to tell our fishermen, our producers, the citizens who are listening that we will not accept a deal with bad terms.

“If a good agreement cannot be reached, we will oppose it.

“Each country has a veto right.”

On the other hand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly told the bloc it had to be more realistic in accepting Britain’s negotiating position in fishing and trade talks.

In the end, the EU and Britain reached what they both described as a “mutual compromise” on fishing, which saw the UK Government settling for a five-and-a-half-year transition “during which access to UK waters is fixed”.

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, French MEP Philippe Olivier suggested the German Chancellor played an influential role in brokering the agreement, at the expense of France.

Mr Olivier, who serves as special adviser to National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen, said: “Germany totally dominates the EU and it really doesn’t care about the problems of fisheries…

“So when they started off with the negotiations, fishing problems were not actually taken that much into consideration.

“I am not aware of how exactly the negotiations went, but all I can say is that our interests, the interests of French fishermen were not high up on the agenda.

“It seems like with the decrease of 25 percent the deal is far from being perfect.

“It is an agreement that we hope can be changed in the future.”

Mr Olivier then noted: “This subject shows something very important and that is the agreement on fishing should have been struck directly between France and the UK.

“It shows how important bilateral relations are to get the best agreements.”

In another interview with Express.co.uk, German MEP Gunnar Beck claimed French President Emmanuel Macron’s influence within the EU will be far greater after Mrs Merkel retires.

Armin Laschet has recently been appointed new federal chairman of Germany’s centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU).

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He is now in line to succeed Mrs Merkel as Chancellor after this year’s federal election.

Mr Beck said: “Merkel undoubtedly had a lot of experience.

“Laschet lacks that experience.

“He is a rather provincial figure. His career has only been on a regional level. He has never had a ministerial role.

“If he becomes Chancellor, Macron will assume a far more prominent role in the EU since there will be no German equivalent to him.

“He will reign free.

“Whether that makes a great deal of difference in terms of Franco-German relations, not so sure…”

Paris appears to be extremely pleased with Mr Laschet’s appointment.

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Mr Beaune told Welt Am Sonntag: “This is excellent news for France and for Europe.

“Armin Laschet has the sense for a European Germany.

“He is a friend of France and a committed European.”

Mr Macron has made no secret of his preference for Mr Laschet.

In 2020 alone, the two met three times.

Alongside German Minister of Health Jens Spahn, Mr Laschet was invited by Mr Macron to attend the 2020 Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, in a sign of gratitude for their role in helping French citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic in France.

In an honour reserved for special guests, Mr Macron also invited the new CDU leader into the Élysée Palace’s gardens.

Mr Laschet is generally seen in line with Mrs Merkel’s views on key issues.

However, when it comes to the EU, he has often criticised the German Chancellor for not being ambitious enough.

At the Munich Security Conference last year, he said: “Today the French President [Emmanuel Macron] is making proposals, but we are taking too long to respond.”

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