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French Establishment Ponders French Decline


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.

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  • Atanu Maulik

    France has been trying to come up with some kind of alternative to the Anglo- American world order for the past 300 yrs. It’s high time that France give up this futile pursuit. Otherwise it may well be that France and the French language and culture will cease to exist by the end of this century.

  • Pete

    Ever since the end of WWI, when the French had their ‘you-know-whats’ shot off, France has had pretensions of greatness but never the will or strength to achieve it.

    The French seemed to have thought that their yapping at and hectoring of those greater than them in terms of military, economic and cultural power would make them equal. How wrong they were.

    Even their treasured language has sunk to the point of near irrelevancy in today’s world.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Blue Model is a dead end, and even some French now acknowledge the unpalatable truth. France = Detroit

    • bpuharic

      And that Red model that’s jeopardized TX, LA, OK, MS and took 19 trillion out of our economy in 2007 while costing 8 million jobs

      How’s that doing?

      • cubanbob

        It’s doing quite fine in this universe. In yours, who knows?

      • Boritz

        We’re living as only the privileged can in France. They should get their fracking on.

  • Fat_Man

    France has been steadily losing ground since the end of the Napoleonic Wars almost 200 years ago. It is not a good sign that they only now realize they have a problem.

  • cubanbob

    The French thought themselves to be the rider of the German horse in the EU. The horse it appears now to have changed it’s mind.

    The French need to do some serious thinking about what has lead to their relative decline and whether or not they are willing to do what it takes to reverse the decline or accept it and let it and what comes with it.

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