I was recently seeing this video on the French Presidential Candidate Marine le Pen by Vox, and although the video and creators are slightly biased, they make these points:-

"...She's particularly anti-globalisation, She's against the European Union ... Marine le Pen said she will hold a referendum to pull France out of the EU. She would like to ask for a "Frexit" just as we had a Brexit. She would like to return to a sovereign currency and she would very much like to return to a France of a different era. If France was to be actually removed (from the EU), the it would mean the end of the European experiment as we know it.

Now, the obvious conclusion is that with the event of a French exit of the EU, this would greatly reduce the power and influence that the EU has or it would mark the total collapse of the EU. But how does this conceived 'Frexit' benefit and/or hinder France and Europe economically, militarily, socially and politically?

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    I think this question is on-topic because it asks about the potential benefit for Frexit for France. Le Pen's speech is only an example and I do not see this as asking why Le Pen's says that (and even that might get an explanation).
    – Alexei
    Dec 24, 2019 at 8:03
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    return to a France of a different era The 1800s, or what? XD Dec 24, 2019 at 15:36
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    There's no benefit to Brexit and there would be no benefit to Frexit either. Every "exit" will make the whole of Europe weaker. Dec 25, 2019 at 2:28
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    "just as we had a Brexit" Which after years still isn't complete. So taking that as a good example for anything is a bit of a red flag.
    – Mast
    Dec 25, 2019 at 12:18
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    It's worth mentioning that Marine Le Pen's party has changed their mind since this video was made. Their latest policy is to stay in the EU and in the euro-zone, in order to "change things from inside". See for instance: franceinter.fr/politique/… [fr]
    – Erwan
    Dec 26, 2019 at 15:04

3 Answers 3


LePen is selling a brand of nationalism oriented towards the "good old days" when France mattered more, not necessarily because it was better off, but because fewer nations were successful overall, so France looked better. It's emotional, rather than necessarily fact-based.

With that said, let's take some areas


Every French school child learns early on about Colbert and how he promoted the French economy with dirigisme and promoting self-sufficiency. There is a long French tradition with nurturing national champions and picking industrial winners.

Unfortunately for that narrative, over the years, the EU has brought rules against state subsidies and other rules to promote competition. This has sometimes resulted in cases where France was told not to do something it wanted. Out of the EU, France will be able to revert back to the norm and again subsidize "worthy" companies.

Sparlava makes a good point that France would be free to pursue trade deals unhindered by EU red tape, except that I don't believe this is generally advertised as a benefit to FN voters at large, who are generally not free marketers (France is not near as free market as the UK in general outlook). Seems more used to tactically counter arguments made by economists than widely proposed as a platform.


LePen, when you get right down to it, wants a country with fewer foreigners (or French citizens that "don't look French enough"). While still within the EU it would be limited in how much it could effect such a policy even if LePen was elected. First by EU rules about free movement of EU citizens, second by EU human rights legislation.

Out of the EU, it could adopt a much more radically transformative approach to whichever minorities it wanted to control.


France has long wanted to push forward a strong French-led European military. Traditionally, that has been opposed by the UK (which favors NATO) and less than entirely enthusiastically backed by Germany (for historical reasons). France would be free to do what it chose in that field, though how it would play out against an expected rise of isolationism under a LePen government is unclear. Expect in any case more subsidies for French defense companies and more national procurement preference.


The relative loss in international political significance for France coincides with the rise of Europe. One could make a case that whatever leverage France does retain internationally is largely due to its leading role within the EU. However, at an emotional level, it is not a stretch to sell the return to a simpler time, les Trente Glorieuses at a time when the EU had considerably less power and France was more confident, even if those 2 were quite possibly unrelated facts.

Potential to re-align with like-minded countries. Russia, Urban's Hungary, Poland's PiS who are somewhat ostracized by the EU as a whole for their ethno-nationalist policies, i.e. joining others in a "coalition of the less-than-tolerant".

Most fundamentally, from a nationalist party's perspective, supranational organizations like the EU, with binding obligations and the inability of a national government to do fully as it wants, are wrong, simple as that. You see this time and again, with critics of the UN, EU, IMF, etc...

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    The military angle is interesting. If for no other reason than if the French really want a French-led European military this is trivial to achieve. Simply spend bucket loads of cash. It's difficult to lead when you don't represent a significant proportion of the capability. The US leads most military operations simply because it is bigger than anyone else. If the French want to lead, then get above that 2% mark and strive for the US 3%+
    – Jontia
    Dec 24, 2019 at 17:58
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    The immigration angle is poorly worded. The desire of anti-immigration nationalists is not to prevent French citizens that "don't look French enough" but rather to prevent French citizens who don't hold traditional French values. A significant portion of immigrants bring their culture, language, traditions, and values with them and may not, and teach their children not to, adopt traditional French values. That said, I've upvoted this answer because it is otherwise a very good answer.
    – dotancohen
    Dec 24, 2019 at 20:40
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    The immigration angle is worded exactly as intended, Merci. Despite being French, I first lived in France when I was about 25 in the late 80s. Despite never have lived there, it was clear to me that I was much more accepted, as a white-skinned Caucasian living there for just a year or two, than a 2nd or 3rd generation Arab, who might very well be 100% secular. Just wander around the streets and see who is going to get a controle d'identite, Monsieur. This is not unexpected in a country where people refer to neighbors of 30 years as "les Parisiens d'a cote". Dec 24, 2019 at 22:13
  • Lots of good points but it could be useful to better separate actual consequences of leaving the EU from Le Pen's talking points about them. Regarding immigration, the EU doesn't really constrain France, at least when it comes to non-EU citizens and France has generally been more welcoming (and less frequently at odds with human rights legislation) than other EU countries (I am thinking about family reunion rules for example).
    – Relaxed
    Dec 29, 2019 at 8:18
  • Regarding the military, what it wants is ressources from other countries under French leadership, not more freedom to support the local defense industry as it is actually already perfectly allowed under current rules (there are national security exceptions to state aid and competition rules and multi-million procurement contracts with no open competition in this area). The main constraint is that all this costs too much for a country the size of France.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 29, 2019 at 8:21

Firstly I must say that I am probably more biased than everybody would like on this question as I was a proponent for brexit. I know more of the advantages for leaving than I do disadvantages and I do believe this is because I research more on the leave side.

Secondly, after reading the answers above, eloquently written, fair and quite factual as they are, a point is missed although it was touched on by the first answer, indeed there is a tremendous amount of emotion involved. It's not all about economics and GDP!

In short, people care about their standard of living, who their neighbours are and their identity.

On immigration, in Britain it was much more pressing, with a population growth of 8 million since 2001, 80% of that from immigration, on a small island that offers free healthcare and subsidies to those immigrants at a net loss overall, paid for by the british population who had lived there all their lives, it's much more serious than in France but there is more to immigration than, again, money.

France is an ancient, powerful nation that has always had an extremely strong identity with their wonderful art, music, law, food, revolutions, they truly have a national identity. Just as Britain does.

Never before in their histories has Britain or France been a nation of immigrants as it is now, a popular misconception, prior to the open door policies of the EU Britain and France for their entire histories (I am taking a bit of a punt here on France, please do correct me) have never even come close to the influx we've seen in the past decade or two, which has seen immigration rise five-fold.

Remember we are talking about countries which are 1000 years old, even if revolutions have mixed things up a bit. My argument is that France's identity may be being 'watered' down as many other EU migrants flood into the country, many of whom have no desire to assimilate at all, they are economic migrants.

A country of people without a strong identity is not as prosperous as it could be, historically great nations are formed and maintained on their individual identities and the population who subscribe to it.

The other side of the argument is the EU itself. Being the colossal political union that it is, that is self electing with its presidents and committee members, that controls laws over its residing countries, many of whom have completely different cultures and identities cannot effectively rule with the same sceptre over different cultures and peoples - many people see this as bigger and more powerful government, which many people fear and have good reason to, with history at our backs.

That's another nail, as much as the EU doesn't like to see, countries within the EU do have a strong independent national identity, you only have to take the short trip from england to france, or france to germany to see how different the food, people and language is.

Economically, many professors of economics have been exclaiming for years that countries within the EU would do better as an independent, self-governing and law making state as they can reduce the tariffs that the EU set, which is around 20% on imported goods from the rest of the world, this is partly due to the mass of rules and regulations that the EU as a political union impose, increasing costs, all of these costs end up being passed down to the end consumer (me and you), the real loser is the normal working people of these individual countries, being a nation on it's own could mean no tariffs at all if the country so wishes to do meaning much cheaper goods, benefiting the normal end consumer.

As a member of the EU you must oblige to their trade rules, immigration rules and a plethora of laws that make each country effectively 20 - 30% (there is some debate about the actual figure) ruled by the european union.

The EU sounds great in theory, bringing many countries together, locked into rules that govern all of them, a single currency, matching trade rules and it was an idea for a force of good initially but the countries within this union are so utterly different it doesn't seem to work as the best solution for them individually.

I foresee Britain becoming individually more powerful now as it is free to trade with the rest of the world with its own rules and to make and live by it's own laws, as it has done for its entire history, save for the past 30 years, now not reliant on mass immigration to fill the lower end of the ladder jobs, british people will have to take that role and become more skilled and pass the money back through their own system, rather than an economic migrant who will likely send the money home to their native nation, I see the same happening with France.

My prediction is the EU will fall and soon.

With the right leaders in place and freedom to trade with the world, the good people of France and their mighty history will once again find themselves on a serious upward trajectory.

The idea that a europe of independent nation states cannot function on their own, cannot trade with eachother effectively or rule by their own law and live by in harmony is preposterous.

The world has changed since the last century and the EU can be accredited with helping this but it has far out grown its purpose.

I wonder what Churchill would say now, if he could.

I apologise for being so bias but there are facts to this as well as emotions of national identity and they are both strong.

EDIT This was my first post and I probably was too 'passionate' and opinionated, I'll try to refrain from doing that so much in future posts.

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    Welcome to Politics.SE. Ref. "Firstly I must say that I am probably more biased than everybody would like on this question " - while this is OK on most forums, it is not OK on Politics (and virtually all Stack Exchange sites), because we like balanced, objective answers which also provide some references. Just check Italian Philosophers 4 Monica's answer to have some insight into what a good answer means here.
    – Alexei
    Dec 26, 2019 at 13:23
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    @Alexei thanks, too kind. keep in mind, I still get corrected when my own bias slip out in my posts (and mostly appreciate it). In your quote, I think Sparlava is admitting/notifying us of his bias, rather than pushing it. The rest could be worded more neutrally (cited dispassionately) but that's hard to do since the question is asking precisely what arguments are being made for FREXIT. In a way, a disclaimer of bias is just as effective as a laborious rewording to neutral-ize the citation of those arguments. Or someone can go to town on edits, as long as they keep the gist. Dec 26, 2019 at 15:03
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    So the immigration levels of the 50-60s in France were as much as they have been year-on year as in the past two decades?
    – Sparlarva
    Dec 26, 2019 at 15:29
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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_France, if you see this map of the immigration proportion of the french population, it has risen starkly from 2001, with very similar levels that britain had. Are you suggesting the immigration discussion in France is not because of this and is because of the 50-60s?
    – Sparlarva
    Dec 26, 2019 at 15:31
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    @jontia the UK isn't allowed to negotiate trade deals before it has left (January 31st). So none. And you must know that - so why are you asking?
    – Sjoerd
    Dec 26, 2019 at 21:31

The claims are preposterous and could be struck off without thinking.

Look at the France Economic data here. France Trade info

If the imports are more than its exports, How they are planning to fund the deficit? Obviously by taxing the citizens more than what's actually needed. Do you think, will the situation brighten if France leaves the EU? Working in unison has many advantages.

The EU gives its members a union, where they could

  • Collaborate with others and make better products, which can match or exceed global standards. Without collaboration/participation from member states, the nation has to solely depend on its local resources capability to innovate. A French carmaker can have a very good deal with the italians and germans for some specific parts and make a better product.
  • Gives its member states a wider market to market their products/services, which they could use to expand their business and make more profit. Which leads to more taxes and a better society as a whole.
  • Member states get additional resources/funding whenever needed. If an industry is lagging or falling apart, measures would be taken to protect/reinforce such industries ensuring no major damage occurs. Today, farmers in many nations receive the required support from the EU, so they have resources to optimize/improvise their produce.
  • Citizens get the right to work wherever/on whatever they want. An italian citizen can work freely with the scots on whiskey. A french engineer can work with the germans in Germany on how to develop better mechanical parts. The Germans could work with the french on building better trains. The knowledge flows like blood throughout the system and aids economic activity.
  • Pharma is another industry which demands extremely high resources to develop new drugs for ever-growing diseases list. The Union provides the needed resources (people) to manufacture new drugs. Without skilled resources, each nation just falls apart and will lag in every possible sector.

Politicians claims are based on just employment in the short term. However, in the long term, if the companies aren't able to collaborate and make better products, their sales will fall and will be out of business, which will eventually throw out all its employees.

The politicians are not worried about long term gains or losses, because, their interests lie in gaining power in the short term. They are not worried about your purchasing power, or your ability to grow. They just seek your satisfaction through preposterous claims, so they could gain the much-sought power. The costs associated with such moves might devastate nations.

If the french leaves the EU, then all french companies must work with all nations independently, then each company needs to allocate more resources to match and validate their products/services against the laws of each country's requirements just to sell their products. Consider taxation, marketing and other departments, where additional resources are needed. The price of products/services goes up and the competing nations like China and others gain an easy victory. The cost to produce goes up and the competition has an advantage. This reduces the net sales of the french and impacts their revenue. How will it benefit the nation? But, this meets the short term gains promised by the politicians advocating a leave vote.

Consider war, If the French are good at trade and one of its neighbours is good at war. The neighbour will ensure the French do not get much needed support, so they could gain an advantage in trade if France falls. The neighbour is not worried about War, because he is good at it. Nations behaving like parasites is something barbaric. France already lost in one war. Being a member of EU, they could get the best tanks from Germany, Best warfighters from the US and best missiles from another member of the EU and the much-needed resources (food/people/supplies) on demand. Without all these, they need to produce their own software, hardware, weapons research, development without pulling resources from its domestic companies. Is it possible?

The EU Formation is well-thought, effective, designed to reduce the friction between all nations and bring them under one umbrella. This gave the EU the most powerful position in the world. The EU bought skilled, thought power, labour, laws under one umbrella and aided the development of the whole region. Leaving will dilute a nations skilled power, thought power, Labor and laws. How will it empower any nation?

The whole debate of leaving started with illegal immigration. I agree there had been some misunderstanding which caused this issue. Instead of working on an effective solution to address the problem, some politicians are using it to their advantage by misleading people. The claimed benefits are just a figment of politicians imagination, driven by their greed & fallacy.

Being in a union ensures all work together to address all issues. Leaving the union is the stupidest decision a nation could make.

Addressing comments received.

My answer seems to be too optimistic for few.

There are disadvantages of being in such a big Union.

  • Any issue, which a nation perceives and seeks some amendments must go through the union and its members. The amendments would be made only if the majority agree.
  • A time-consuming process as every request must be validated wrt all member states.
  • Membership comes at a cost. Remember, EU is not an organization. All such fees collected will be spent on the member states. There is no monetary benefit to the EU. Its just a body representing nations. The spending is also done as per pre-defined terms.
  • Some rules have been flouted by the EU. I am not very clear on these, but it appears, some misuse (of funds) had occurred in the past.

Every nation has issues. Some are addressed by the members of parliament, but many go unaddressed. The same would be the case with the EU too. The issues take time to be considered and resolved. But by adhering to the agreed process, the member states could reap the benefits of being in a union.

Since Brexit,

  • Till date, none of the leaders May/Johnson/Corbyn objectively defined leaving the EU as the right thing. Some even avoided questions from the media related to this topic.
  • They always support their answer by saying "This is a decision made by the people of Britan. We will get it done". They ensure these two sentences follow each other. Why?
  • They always defy comments saying "Leaving without an agreement" and they always say some sort of deal would be made with the EU.

If being in the EU is really painful, then why they are worried about leaving without a deal? The lack of a clear answer from the representatives defines the significance of having such a deal.

Every member state received a cake. Some consumed it in a day and some preserved it for future use. Now, Those seeking political exposure are demanding cake from other member states as they haven't consumed it. This is the typical argument made by these extremists. I agree with all the demands if they are rightful. If there are any issues in allocation, demand for reevaluation and get the issue addressed. Everyone has a say. Why provocate to leave?

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    You’ve listed some commonly quoted benefits of EU membership but have neglected any negatives. Unless you are implying there are no down sides?
    – Matt
    Dec 24, 2019 at 14:05
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    @Matt, there are some negatives. Remember, the EU is just like a parliament, wherein the members are from different countries and work together to address issues. If the UK sees some issues, why its EU representatives arent working to fix those issues? Instead, they want to criticise those issues in Media. Why? I have seen many politicians making financial claims, but they do not want to consider other states financial situations. They just want what they perceive as the right number. Such misues and any communication wrt such situations must be controlled.
    – user29025
    Dec 24, 2019 at 14:50
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    Answer comments on an answer to a different question are not really the place for a question and answer on a different subject, especially since the site already has that Q&A, at politics.stackexchange.com/q/39793/10121 .
    – JdeBP
    Dec 24, 2019 at 14:52
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    @kris2025 : still, you aren't answering what was asked in the question. (by the way, my opinion is also that it would be better both for France and for other EU countries if France remains). But the question was asking for arguments in favor of an exit. You did the opposite. Yes, I can understand that you don't agree with the arguments for an exit, or you believe that they are superseded by arguments if favor of staying. But those arguments for leaving, right or wrong, still exist. And that's what this question was asking about. Instead of answering, you basically posted a rant.
    – vsz
    Dec 24, 2019 at 15:12
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    Trade deficits are not financed by increasing taxes.
    – Mike Scott
    Dec 24, 2019 at 16:32

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