Sunday

21st Jul 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Warsaw and Budapest are boasting about their support for von der Leyen after the german is confirmed only by a small margin of MEPs, but the illiberals should not expect the softening of rule of law scrutiny.

Analysis

Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts

The first-ever female president of the European Commission wants half of her team of commissioners to consist of women. But most of the commissioners put forward by EU member states so far have been male.

Analysis

What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

The vote on von der Leyen showed the fundamental change in EU politics. The rise of the European Parliament, the power of political parties, and the fragmentation of politics, are new realities to be taken into account.

Von der Leyen's EU vote far from sure

Unhappy socialist and liberal MEPs could upset German's bid to be next EU commission chief, making an even worse mess in the top jobs system.

Merkel and Macron split over Weber presidency

EU heads of government have their first face-to-faces discussions after the European elections on who should lead the EU commission. They are unlikely to decide quickly - with the parliament also divided over the candidates.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Abortion Wars
  2. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  3. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  4. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  5. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  6. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  7. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  8. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us