While elsewhere we mentioned and recommended reading the speech of Newt Gingrich in the American Enterprise Institute, we will give some attention to France in our focus of this month. By coincidence, – not by design,- a modest contribution to geopolitical balance.
We had an interesting morning visiting the annual Convention of a French political party stressing the need to keep national sovereignty well protected in France (and by implication also for other European countries. The party is called “RIF”, Rassemblement Independance pour la France,
It now goes now so far in its warnings as as to plead for exiting France from the European Union, the Schengen treaties, and also from NATO and WTO, the World Trade Organization. So its seems overall anti-globalization.
Would such an “exit” be really possible? Perhaps not. But then at least the catching slogan it has the advantage of positioning this small political movement with a clear marketing tag. Did DSchumpeter not say that popiticalk parties are also competitive power machines?
We see even in France more examples. An even clearer message is displayed by Bloc Identitaire, led by Philippe Robert, which goes to the extent of positioning itself with its own candidate for the presidential elections in 2012. Is this with any real hope for the Presidency ? No but it is good marketing.
This is not the place to judge the positions.The fact however that such rather extreme vows and objectives are expressed is important. The French RIF unhappiness with Brussels could well coalesce with unhappiness in other European Union member countries like Germany. In that country the unhappiness might be of another nature directed at European management of the EURO. Coalescence might also be possible with Netherlands unhappiness with EU’ weakness on Turkey and its dstrust of Islamic pressure (Obviously those are distinct problems, but again, we disdpleasure of different natures may coalesce in something bigger and unrecognizable. However the Netherlands as one could expect of a trading nation – still has an important core of support for the EU and the euro
RIF’’s president Paul Marie Couteaux ( http://www.valeursactuelles.com/parlons-vrai/parlons-vrai/temp%C3%AAte-en-vue20100819.html ) pointed to great shifts which he expects to see (and to cause) in the French political landscape. He sees the reigning UMP party and also the Front National disintegrating and he would then be happy to receive the moving electorate, particularly like-minded patriots in a broader party. That would greatly redistribute political power in France, with increased forces critcial to the EU, and even wishing to quit the EU.
Could such changes happen also in other European countries like Germany or the Netherlands? As mentioned before the Dutch open-sea trading nation is more globally interested than France and may be less wary than the Germans with our euro-management.Any movement away from the EU should also undercut and perhaps even end the accession negotiations with Turkey, and that again may make the EU more acceptable to Holland and other EU members. The Turkish candidature was an important element in the Dutch “NO” to the “Constitution”.
The way how European Commissioners (like Mrs Viviane Reding) and the European Parliament deal with a member country like France on the question of the “Roms” –gypsies- is causing further revolt. Her ideas on imposing quota for women in business boardrooms may a also a sign of growing Commission arrogance
Let us also see how under Baroness Ashton’s guidance the new EU external service “Ambassadors” will deal with present bilateral ambassadors “en poste in the various capitals outside Europe. Will they have enough courtesy and patience for what still are the Ambassadors of sovereign European nations ? I had in a place like Beijing already sometimes moments of doubt. Brussel’s centralizing and power expansion, both in Commission and Parliament, are sometimes going too far. In stead of making the EU ambassadors into a kind of EU “Super Ambassador”, a more modest proposal for closer cooperation of the embassies in Beijing could be followed (see our “Europe’’s “Rayonnement” ”).
Even Monsieur Jean-Claude Trichet of the European Central Bank was behaving like a schoolmaster against Slovakia (see Dalibor Rohac in EUobserver 10 september) when that nation refused to participate in the Greek bailout. M Trichet feels that Slovakia was setting a bad example. As he said “If there is a risk that future euro applicants might “do something like that” in the future, the ECB would not support their accession. Such talking down to sovereign nations will not be taken easily henceforth. Less ”imperial” attitudes in Bruxelles (internally, namely over its member nations) and in Washington (externally, namely with respect to its NATO allies) may help achieve better integration of true European interests – ” l’Europe reelle” – and of the two sides of the Atlantic together.
What I appreciated in the RIF’s convention was in any case a well-done commemoration of General Pierre-Marie Gallois, once one of RIF’s founding supporters, and under de Gaulle the “father” or “uncle” of the French nuclear power, and a great French personality. I too, in another context, – the Yugoslav conflict -, was privileged to have a working relationship with General Gallois (together with others like Dr Zarko Papic, Prof Ivan Djuric, Faik Dizdarevic, Serdjan Kerim) and to appreciate him also as a very courteous and entertaining guest. Un grand ’homme, qui nous a quitte”.