France and European Union
Since the end of the Second World War, whatever party is in power, Europe has increasingly been a priority strand in French foreign policy. The declaration of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Schuman, inspired by Jean Monnet, was the origin of the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community with Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. The aim was to establish “de facto solidarity” to reconstruct Europe and consolidate Franco-German reconciliation. In a similar spirit, the Treaty of Rome launched the common policies, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), desired by France.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification led to France and Germany proposing to their partners a “European Union”, established by the treaty signed in Maastricht in 1992. Maastricht marked the birth of the single currency, the euro, now shared by the fifteen countries of the Eurogroup. The Treaty also provided for cooperation in foreign policy among all EU member countries, the beginnings of a political Europe, supported by France. A common foreign, security and defence policy has gradually come about through common action on major international issues, the establishment of European peacekeeping operations (Macedonia, Bosnia, Democratic Republic of Congo, etc.) and the definition of a “European Security Strategy”, evidence of a shared vision of the threats and resources needed to meet them.
The most recent enlargement of the European Union is another step towards the reunification of the continent. But the task is not yet complete. The situation in some of the successor countries to the former Yugoslavia has not yet been stabilised, which justifies the continued activity of the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) and a major EU presence on the ground (Kosovo, Bosnia) to prepare for their integration.
To adapt the institutions to this enlargement, France and Germany gained the agreement of their partners in June 2007 to obtain a new treaty, modifying the existing treaties, which will be ratified in 2008. It will establish a stable presidency for the European Council and a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy ; it will extend the use of qualified majority voting and increase the powers of the European Parliament ; it will also involve national parliaments more closely in Union decisions.
Once the institutional questions are settled, there arises the issue of the future of the European project for 2020-2030. France wishes a consultation to be launched into the future of the Union and its place in the world. France considers that the Union must more effectively respond to the concerns of its citizens, particularly in the fields of immigration, the environment and security. That is the prime challenge for the French Presidency in the second half of 2008.