March 14, 2019 / 11:45 PM / 12 days ago

French minister Loiseau wants to lead Macron's EU election campaign

FILE PHOTO: French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau, who has handled French Brexit preparations, said on Thursday she wanted to lead President Emmanuel Macron’s party in May’s European Parliament elections.

At the end of a long TV debate with far-right leader Marine Le Pen, Loiseau, a career diplomat who headed the elite ENA school of administration before joining Macron’s government, put herself forward as the headline candidate in elections for seats in the European Parliament.

“I don’t want tomorrow’s Europe to become the one you would draw with your neo-liberal nationalist friends,” Loiseau told Le Pen on public TV France 2’s flagship political show.

“So tonight, I’m ready to be a candidate,” she added.

Macron has yet to unveil his list of candidates for the May 26 election, which he has framed as a battle between anti-immigrant nationalists and pro-EU “progressives” such as himself.

Loiseau said she did not know whether Macron’s Republic On the Move party would eventually choose her. Loiseau’s name, as well as that of Health Minister Agnes Buzyn, have circulated as possible top candidates in French media.

Macron’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

“I’m glad you’re a candidate. Because you’re a complete technocrat,” said Le Pen, whose National Rally party is nipping at the heels of Macron’s party in voter intention surveys.

(The story was refiled to fix a typo in paragraph 6)

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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