22nd Oct 2020

EU suffering from 'general fatigue', says France

France's Europe minister has given a strongly pessimistic view of the state of the European Union suggesting it is suffering from "general fatigue."

Speaking at the annual gathering of French ambassadors on Tuesday (29 August), Catherine Colonna said "the functioning of the union – and more generally the state of the union – appears worrying to me."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Last year France rejected the EU constitution in a referendum (Photo: EUobserver)

"It is not that there is a crisis, that is not the case, the European Union is rather suffering from a sort of illness of apathy, from general fatigue."

She went on to say that this does "not augur well for its future capacity to respond to the needs of its people."

"Nobody can understand why the Europeans are unable to help one another in an organised fashion in fighting forest fires or in coordinating the evacuations of their nationals from Lebanon," she pointed out.

Ms Colonna, who used to be president Jacques Chirac's spokesperson, suggested three reasons for Europe's current situation.

Enlargement and globalisation

The first is the bloc's enlargement to take on countries from central and eastern Europe which has "profoundly changed…the nature of the European project."

She said that member states are happy to continue to pretend that the same European project is being pursued but just with more countries.

Ms Colonna also highlighted globalisation – being a "destabilising element for the classic European model" – as another reason and a change in what is expected from the EU as the third reason.

"There is practically no problem that arises that does not result in people turning towards Europe to see what it can do to resolve it," said the minister adding that the EU is not ready to respond.

"Can the European Union carry on at this pace for long? Can Europe even take crucial decisions any more," she asked before concluding:

"We need a more fundamental start, if we are to avoid the risk of the European Union collapsing."

Ms Colonna's warning comes just a day after president Chirac criticised Europe's foreign policy saying that it failed when it came to its response to Lebanon.

"The future of the European project is today predicated on Europe's ability to be a leading political player," the president told the same audience of ambassadors.

France's role in the EU

Their words also reflect a greater unease and lack of satisfaction with France's overall role in Europe.

A founding member of the EU, it has been perplexed by the addition of the economically liberal new member states making it have to fight to preserve the French social model.

It has also seen a decline in its overall influence as the EU expanded and a reduction in the use of the French language - which is strongly tied to the perception of the country's status.

French voters last year also rejected the European Constitution, with fears about jobs and job security - embodied in an EU law on opening up the services market - seen as a large contributing factor to the vote.

France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder

Muslim NGOs targeted by the France's retaliatory response to the brutal murder of a schoolteacher claim the government is labelling "innocent Muslims as 'Islamists" just to be able to say that they are doing something".

Court verdict sees sun set on Greece's Golden Dawn

While the leaders of Greece's Golden Dawn facing lengthy jail terms, the atmosphere remains tense in Athens and some other parts of Greece. Depending on the exact sentencing, further clashes between anarchist-leftists and remnants of the extreme-right may ensue.

Massive MEP majority for better rule-of-law mechanism

A large majority of MEPs back an initiative to streamline the EU's tools on protecting rule of law and democracy and have effective sanctions. They also backed a tough stance on the rule of law conditionality in budget talks.

Orban move evicting Budapest university 'unlawful'

While the ECJ ruling says the Orban government's legislation breaks EU law, it does not change the facts on the ground, which has seen the university already leave Budapest for Vienna.

EU parliament vows not to cave in to budget pressure

The parliament's majorty dismisses the German EU presidency's proposal on the rule of law conditionality, which has emerged as the main political obstacle to agree on the next long-term EU budget.

News in Brief

  1. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  2. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  3. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  4. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  5. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  6. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  7. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  8. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us