Is France heading south? That’s the title of a notable recent interview with political scientist Dominique Moisi over at CFR. Moisi is in some ways the spokesman for the French foreign policy establishment, and so to hear him pronounce pessimistically on several subjects is a good insight into how the French see themselves these days.On the French and German dynamic in the EU:
I don’t think the problem of the Franco-German relationship is fundamentally one of personalities. It’s about balance, equilibrium. The Franco-German relationship is sound and good when there is a sense of balance between the two countries. Unfortunately for Europe today, France no longer plays in the same league as Germany. Germany is perceived–rightly so–as a much stronger country, with a more dynamic economy and with a much more positive society than France. So while the relationship between Hollande and Merkel has not been great, this is not the problem. The problem is the fact that France and Germany are no longer equals.
That Germany has eclipsed France within Europe is not exactly news for anyone paying attention EU politics, but it’s a notable confession considering the source. Moisi wrings his hands over Francois Hollande, explaining that he’s really a moderate constrained from taking on bold reforms by far left elements in his party on the one side and by fiscal exigencies on the other. But ultimately, Moisi seems less concerned with leadership and seems to worry that France has undergone some kind of profound, permanent change:
The important question is whether France has [fundamentally shifted away from] the countries in the north of Europe that seem to have overcome the crisis and moved in the direction of its southern European neighbors. If France was to move clearly and unfortunately in the direction of Greece and Spain, the consequences for the entire European Union would be very negative. This is why you have so many political leaders in Germany who [have] expressed their concern with the direction of the French economy.
An interesting, telling interview. Read it here.