With #Brexit looming round the corner, the EU is doing themselves no favours at the moment. The way they are handling the issue is only increasing the probability that Le Pen will win this year.
The establishment's ignorance
We are in the midst of a new year and the establishment still fail to comprehend the consequences of Britain's decision to leave the EU last year. It is easy pickings for the French presidential hopeful and instead of attempting to stem the tide of nationalism sweeping Europe, it feels like they actually want to commit suicide.
It is no secret that France's current leader, President Francois Hollande, is a passionate Europhile. With his exit from the French political scene this year, the establishment there has been awarded with a severe blow. The emphasis in the media is focusing on the leader of the #National Front and she is emerging as the favourite to win as her opponents seem to shoot themselves in their own feet.
The conservative candidate, Francois Fillon, has recently been embroiled in a scandal which involved him paying his wife, Penelope, for parliamentary work that she never actually did. The French media have labelled this scandal as 'Penelope-gate.' Fillon has tendered the possibility of his resignation from the presidential contest if police investigations into this scandal persist. Le Pen has successfully portrayed herself as the anti-establishment candidate. Considering the resentment towards domestic and international political institutions across the world is evolving as we speak, this only aids the National Front's campaign.
Marcon's desperate policies
The centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is appealing to UK banks to relocate to his native country during the Brexit negotiations. He is hoping this will persuade voters to buy into his brand as he prays that stealing British banks will create jobs at home whilst showing his disdain towards Brexit, an event no established politician wants. With his support slipping in the opinion polls, this is a pathetic, attention-seeking move that will only add fuel to the flames of nationalism. Le Pen promises to withdraw France from the euro and legislate for a referendum on her country's membership of the EU. It is no secret their economy is stagnating and that the euro has caused chronic unemployment throughout Europe. If Macron hopes an anti-Brexit policy is going to aid his campaign, he is gravely mistaken.
Brexit and Trump have both provided hope to politicians that want to teach the establishment a lesson. If Geert Wilders scores a victory in the Netherlands, the French may turn to their Dutch adversaries for inspiration.
And then there is Juncker, the man who has stated that the EU is 'beautiful' and that he wants to issue Britain with a hefty bill when it leaves the superbloc in April 2019. Yet German politicians are coming to the realisation they need Britain's trade. With these mixed messages, Le Pen will no doubt feel confident she can achieve the same aspirations for her country. Whether the EU punishes Britain, or awards them with a simple free trade deal, the European dream is in jeopardy either way.
Events across the continent and the EU's failure to grasp its problems are both providing Le Pen with an easy victory at the moment. The European project is doomed once Article 50 is triggered. The least they could do is plan for a Le Pen victory as their own arrogance blinded them to Brexit.