January 26, 2022

SURVEY. 29% of French people want a more integrated Europe, compared to 50% of Italians and 43% of Germans

11:45 p.m., December 25, 2021

“On the eve of the start of the French presidency of the European Union, the EuropaNova-Ifop-JDD study published simultaneously in the Corriere della Sera and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung highlights a triple French exception in European matters, in particular compared to Germany and Italy, two countries able to exercise European political leadership. This three-fold French exception calls into question the training capacity of France when, from January 1, it exercises the presidency of the Council of the European Union. How can a country where the European subject has become a major factor of polarization now claim to be the driving force behind European construction?

First French exception, If in Germany as in Italy, national and European pride go hand in hand with a very high level of European pride bringing together three out of four citizens of all generations and crossing the different socio-professional categories, the correlation is not obvious in France. European pride mobilizes only two out of three French people and some populations such as independent professions experience a weak feeling or even an absence of feeling of European pride whereas historically these populations were pro-European and they remain so, as evidenced by it. eurobarometers in all other member states of the Union.

Ifop survey for EuropaNova and the JDD devoted to the view of the French, Italians and Germans on the pride of belonging to their country and to the European Union.

(JDD)

Second exception, counter-intuitive, the level of European pride of young French people and their desire for stronger European integration is lower than in other European countries. For example, young Italians and young Germans alike bear witness to a significantly higher level of European pride and integration. Concerns about the future of young people, stronger in France than in other European countries, prevent them from projecting themselves as Europeans. Faced with the same concerns, young Italians see their future in Europe, which translates into high European mobility of the latter.

Third striking French exception, in Italy as in Germany, supporters of political parties from the left of the left to the moderate right accumulate high and homogeneous levels in terms of European pride and deeper integration. In France, the sympathizers of the political parties are much more fragmented, the left of the left, which was for more European integration during the referendum of 2005, is now in favor of reinforced national sovereignties while the moderate right is divided contrary to its Italian and German counterparts who are in favor of a much deeper European integration.

The French seem today to be against the tide of the citizens of the other two main powers of the Union

How to explain these French exceptions? The nature of the political regime is certainly a determining factor. France is thus the only country to have a strong presidential regime while the 26 other member states of the Union are parliamentary democracies where the parties must form an alliance. However, a presidential system polarizes opinion. If the president is seen as pro-European and monopolizes the discourse on positive Europe, the oppositions will tend to oppose Europe in general or to neglect the subject. In Italy, as in Germany, the less personalization of power and the culture of coalition are, on the contrary, favorable to a positive political support of European issues by all the governing parties and more generally by civil society.

In addition, the strong focus of the French public debate on the migration issue associated with Europe contributes to further accentuate the fragmentation of opinion. This focus is paradoxical in France insofar as it takes place neither in Germany nor in Italy, two countries which have faced recent migratory pressure much higher than that exerted on France. Third explanatory factor, the discourse on Europe since the French no in 2005 to the draft Constitution for Europe can also explain these exceptions, including that of the pro-Europeans. The latter constantly explain that the Union must be rebuilt. However, experience shows that this in-depth overhaul is in fact only desired by the French, giving the feeling of a national failure to influence European construction.

What impact on PFUE? The French seem today to be against the tide of the citizens of the other two main powers of the Union, which is likely to reduce their capacity for political training within the European Union. Carried out in a trans-partisan framework, the 2008 PFUE made it possible to begin work of reconciliation between the French and the European Union, which had contributed to turning a large part of the population in favor of Europe. The concomitance of the presidential elections and the PFUE of 2022 tends rather in the direction of an increased polarization. It would undoubtedly have been preferable to postpone the PUFE after the presidential election as the President of the European Council Donald Tusk had proposed to the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron. “

Guillaume Klossa is founder of EuropaNova and essayist. He was special advisor to the Minister in charge of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2008.