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Europe’s French conscience

Népszabadság Online - 27 mai, 2005
Article
Hajnalka Vincze

There is no doubt that France has always constituted the cornerstone of the whole European construction: in its capacity as the guardian of the temple: the one who watches the project being kept on its original political track and who reminds the others to bear in mind the pursuit of those strategic purposes.

The fact is however seldom evoked that it is only thanks to France that Europe has still a role to play on the international scene. Without France, his independent nuclear deterrence, his push for Ariane, Airbus and Galileo later, the Union would have become a politically unconscious club, strategically subordinated, militarily at the mercy of foreign powers and therefore economically easy to blackmail.

In view of the innumerable interpretative distortions which appeared before the referendum of May 29, it is worthwhile to correct some misperceptions. In France, the immense majority of those who are opposed to the treaty want the exact same thing as those who take position in its favour. A more European Union. When they talk with disdain about "economically liberal Europe", the French condemn the lack of rules: the political deficit. This absence of political counterweight to the economic aspects is precisely the biggest plague of the integration such as it presents itself today, and this is perceptible in every field.

In any event, the referendum campaign has three undeniable results. Following the highly detailed and informative debates, which had lasted nearly one year, the majority of the French are more in tune with the most important European issues than the bulk of the self-proclaimed "specialists" in other countries. Most importantly, beyond the divisions of the moment, a great convergence can be observed as for the broad policy line to follow, and this could constitute a very solid base for the European policy of the Quay d’Orsay. Lastly, the all-European panic surrounding the referendum shows perfectly well France’s paramount importance, which has nothing to do with arithmetic calculations. All things considered: whatever the result of the referendum and whatever the attempts of minimization or dramatization whose it will be the object, the essence remains the same: France is crucial and the French "understand" the Union better than ever. 

Full text in French and Hungarian.


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