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ROMAIN PISON - NEW YORK UNIVERSITY - GLOBALIZATION COURSE - 2005

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France (March 2006)

France is a country of paraxodes, tragedies and comedies....

I would like to express here a few points about France, and especially the atmosphere that prevails nowadays:
 
1. There is a deep pessimism in France, negativism and mistrust of institutions and the political class. The crisis of EU values is deep and real, and underlines a profound national interest instead of "a move towards regionalism".
 
In the sense, I disagree with your points about EU discussed in the class. There is no such a feeling, as you explained, of regionalism, or even European identity these days, in France or in Europe. One may refer to the excellent paper of Lynn Jamieson, provided in the "Links" page. They are many limitations to the idea of Europe as it is today, and as it is conceived today.
 
I do not want to write another paper here, but I want to point out many examples:
 
a. There is no "EU Passeport". It exists, but it is difficult to obtain and only a very few people know and have it. Many countries do not have electronic passeport even!
 
b. There is no such feeling as there is "no border" within Europe. If you take the example of freight (rail transportation), norms between countries are different, which causes delays and problems. Trucks are thus prefered. However, in this field, the problem of different law exists. Colors for road signs are different (Italy and France for example)
 
c. There is a stigmatization of national policies and identities. I think, as you underlined during the class, that France (its government and its institutions) has always been clever in analyzing what Europe could bring to it. Now, with a weaker economy and Europe with 25 countries, the context is different. France is weak, is shivering, and its vision of Europe (with France at the center) is not strong anymore. That makes Europe very fragile. Recent events that concern merging and amalgamations of public companies or "national" private companies show that the promulgation of a strong Europe is far from being a success.
 
d. Lots of people do not care about Europe. They mainly have national interests. They don't care about the world, and France (and even maybe their town) is their only concern. Local particularities prevail.
 
That show obviously the paradox between decentralization and localization trends, and globalization powers. But in France, 20 years of political and economical immobilism makes the situation slightly different. Furthermore, there is what politists call "negative politization" of events, that creates an atmosphere of contestation instead of proposition...!
 
There is no political will for Europe, besides that, no social and economical will for Europe, and finally no PEOPLE's will, despite the great institutions Europe has today. Propositions and consensus building with greater people's participation is a must and a challenge that may show the shape of tomorrow's Europe.
 
PS (2011): I am scanning through the lines I wrote back in 2006, and finding them increadibly true with regards to the current EU value, financial and monetary crisis. As if we all knew, without recognizing, that something was missing in Europe to make the spin and momemtum sustainable...

by Romain Pison