PORTRAIT – Who is Valérie Hayer, head of the majority list for the European elections?

Arthur de Laborde with AFP / Photo credits: LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP
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7:26 a.m., February 29, 2024

After weeks of reflection, the majority will enter the race for Europeans head on. While all the forces present have already presented their candidate, Emmanuel Macron has kept the suspense going. It will ultimately be Valérie Hayer, 37, president of the Renew group in the European Parliament, who will be the head of the Renaissance list for the next European elections.

Daughter, granddaughter and sister of farmers

After a number of refusals in the presidential camp, from Bruno Le Maire to Julien Denormandie, and a number of hypotheses circulating in the press, from Jean-Yves Le Drian to Olivier Véran, Emmanuel Macron’s choice fell on this 37-year-old woman, originally from Mayenne, still largely unknown to the general public.

“Daughter, granddaughter and sister of farmers”, graduate in public law, former vice-president of the Mayenne Departmental Council, Valérie Hayer comes from the centrist UDI party. Former parliamentary collaborator of ex-minister Jean Arthuis in the European Parliament, she joined Emmanuel Macron in 2017 and was elected MEP in 2019. In January, she took over as head of the Renaissance group from Stéphane Séjourné, long tipped for the position. head of the list but ultimately named Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Gabriel Attal.

Valérie Hayer, “farmer’s daughter, who comes from the west where there are a certain number of pro-European voters, who comes from the UDI at a time when the UDI wants to join the majority, this is not not the stupidest idea”, recently judged an executive from the presidential camp.

Budget specialist

Valérie Hayer has the advantage of knowing the complex European machine well. This specialist in budgetary issues became the second woman a month ago to lead the centrist and liberal family of the European Parliament, after Simone Veil.

By promoting this farmer’s daughter, the macronie wants to both mobilize the pro-European electorate and send a signal to the rural world. “She is recognized. She has intensely experienced everything that has happened at the European level since 2019. Her agricultural origin is a guarantee of the sense of reality, of the principle of reality, which will allow us to dispel the excessive illusionism which often marks politics”, says his political godfather, Jacques Chirac’s former Minister of the Economy, Jean Arthuis.

Breaking through the wall of notoriety

In the European Parliament, she notably took an active part in the negotiations of the multiannual budget and the post-Covid recovery plan. And diligently attacked “the extreme right purveyor of fake news” and the “crass imposture” of his competitor RN Jordan Bardella, in unison with the presidential camp.

If Valérie Hayer has made a solid name for herself in Brussels, this is not the case in France where she was only elected at local level. Its low level of notoriety is not a problem, explains a majority executive, because Emmanuel Macron and Gabriel Attal intend to get involved in the campaign to scrap against the National Rally (RN) of Jordan Bardella, widely favored in the polls.

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