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France: Sovereignty as a Blocking Statute

Is French leadership strong only when opposing action? Have German leaders finally learned to be diplomatic?

May 31, 2013

Credit: Anton Balazh - Shutterstock

France’s President François Hollande is very indignant right now. He refuses to let Brussels tell him and the French people how to fix the imbalances in their economy.

That sounds reasonable enough, were it not for one little problem: The French have proven quite incapable of using their sovereignty for a constructive purpose — fixing their homegrown problems.

Under those circumstances, the guidance from Brussels ought to be most welcome. It allows a practicing politician the classic opt-out, à la:

“This is not me doing it to you, but those bad people at the European Commission forcing me to do it to all of us. Alors, we have to go along.”

Unfortunately, this French president, like so many before him, only finds his inner backbone when it comes to standing up for national sovereignty, in stubborn defense of inaction.

That instinct could be used much more constructively if it were turned on its head — to launch real reforms at home.

On that crucial front, French politicians of either party — from the late Mitterrand through all of Chirac and most of Sarkozy to the Hollande era now — mostly prove to have as much backbone as a squid.

It is the French people who will suffer the most from that misleadership.