The French split between euroscepticism and envy of Europe

As France prepares to take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, on 1is January, the French remain the most defiant and least informed Europeans about Europe and its construction. This form of euroscepticism, which emerges from a survey carried out in early December by the Jacques Delors Institute, Cevipof and the Kantar Center, paradoxically tinged with high expectations from the European Union (EU), took hold in over the past twenty-five years and should not be defeated in six months of the French presidency, despite the government’s emphasis on the notion ” belonging to Europe ». « The sense of belonging has withered away », regretted Emmanuel Macron, on December 6, during a reception given in Paris on the occasion of the twenty-five years of the Delors Institute. And the head of state recognized a ” great difficulty in finding people who are not interested in Europe ».

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Admittedly, 56% of French people remain attached to Europe, in particular to its values ​​of peace and free movement, but half of them express mistrust of Brussels (8 points more than the European average), placing France at the same level as Greece. With Austria and Denmark, France is also at the heart “ a geography of discontent », Underlines the report, where the parties strongly opposed to European integration are political forces of primary importance. The authors qualify this rejection of Europe, however, by recalling that these formations thrive more on migration and security issues or on the rejection of elites than on the European question. The survey confirms that the most Europhiles of the French are young people, graduates, urbanites, and voters leaning more to the left.

Sign of a real ambivalence, if they judge more than their neighbors that the EU is not ” effective “ (56%, against 47% on average), the French nevertheless want more decisions to be taken at European level on important issues: common migration, defense or environment policy. And three quarters of them are in favor of maintaining monetary union.

In addition, the image of the EU, which had sharply deteriorated after the 2008 financial crisis, seems to have improved since the start of the pandemic, thanks in particular to the distribution of vaccines and the implementation of plans for European revival. The health crisis was also an opportunity for the French – of whom only a quarter said they had a good level of information on European issues in January, against 40% on average – to feel “ better informed On the functioning of the EU. A development which the Head of State welcomed on Monday: in the fight against the virus, « the EU has been efficient and generous ” and the vaccine represented “The best tangible proof of what Europe can bring”.

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The French split between euroscepticism and envy of Europe