The French Perspective on European and Global Affairs

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The European Union / The New Europe R. James Ferguson © 2004
Week 7:

The French Perspective on European and Global Affairs

Topics: -
1. France’s Contemporary Challenges: No Longer the Exception?

2. France: A Great Nineteenth Century Power

3. The Shaping of French Policy

4. Maintaining Independence: The Costs of Prestige

5. France as an Independent but Global Power

6. France and Assertive Diplomacy: Europe and Beyond

7. Bibliography and Further Reading

1. France’s Contemporary Challenges: No Longer the Exception?
France has often been viewed as a ‘special nation’, positioning itself in an exception in relation to patterns of Europeanisation, globalisation, and U.S. style market neo-liberalism (see Sadran 2003). This was expressed by Lionel Jospin’s view: ‘Yes to a free market economy, no to a free market society’ (in Sadran 2003, p57), a policy that may be hard to sustain. Influenced by a strong Republican tradition and a sense of itself as a ‘great power’ within the international system, France through the late 20th century also sought to retain strong features of a centralised state, unified culture and strong welfare system that would provide the basis for social cohesion within a very diverse and vigorous political life (Hayward 2003). By the 21st century many of these assumptions have come to be challenged, even while some of these policies live on in government policy and popular imagery. Thus, through the new millennium, the government sought to portray the country as ‘a socially diverse yet solidaristic France, aware of its special national identity in an era of globalization’ (Milner & Parsons 2003, p1). As a result, several key tensions have emerged over how France should position its domestic policies within the wider pattern of an integrating Europe and a progressively more intrusive pattern of globalisation: -

  1. In the past, France sought to enhance its ‘room to manoeuvre’ through a strongly independent, globally oriented foreign policy and assertions of sovereignty in a ‘Europe of the nations’, but this has now been partially limited in the strengthening of European level institutions, and particular the hope to develop a strong Common Foreign and Security Policy (Hayward 2003, p38). From the early 1950s, then again from the 1970s, and again from 1996-2004 (Milner & Parsons 2003, p5), France has accepted the reality of European integration as a way of maintaining its standard of living and its relative power globally. It some areas EU membership may enhance government policy making (Sadran 2003, p51), but only if strong influence is maintained on the future direction of Europe. Even as France makes strong policy statements in some areas, e.g. resistance to U.S. directed engagement in Iraq, this means it still has the problem of how Europe can speak with one voice on these issues. Likewise, France over the last decade has moved to closer military integration with NATO and the European Defence Initiative, leading to a strong engagement in peacekeeping in the Balkans and Kosovo in particular, as well as a keen desire to see the European Rapid Reaction Force more deeply engaged in wider peacekeeping roles.

  2. In the past, France relied on the ‘Franco-German’ engine to push ahead the European agenda, thereby limiting the relative power and dominance of Germany. In an expanding EU of 25, this is no longer possible. At least for the time being, there has been some effort at trilateral cooperation via the regular meetings with the UK, and Germany (Strategic Comments 2004; see lectures 5 and 7).

  3. Through 2001-2004, this factors have meant that France has been one of the key counter-balances to U.S. global and regional dominance, and has tended to pull Atlanticist concerns towards a stronger European focus, leading to tension with the Bush and Blair administrations. Although this tension reduced through 2003-2004, France remains reluctant to see NATO more directly engaged in Iraq, in contrast to support for extended stabilisation forces going in Afghanistan (rising from approximately six to then thousand through the 2004).

  4. In the post-WWII period down through the 1970s the French government at first played a strong economic strategic role (via 5-year ‘indicative plans” in building, owning and maintaining reconstructed industries, areas of high technology, energy production, and military technology (Milner & Parsons 2003, p6; see further below). Privatisation, proceeding again through 1997-2002 period (leading to mass public sector strikes through 2002), has greatly reduced these roles, with the state now viewed as having a very limited regulative role, bringing it into line with wider European trends. The current trend has been circumscribed and regulatory, but not ‘minimalist’ as in the UK’s New Labour approach (Milner & Parsons 2003, p8). Likewise, through 2003, France has made some moderate moves in the direction of greater decentralisation, giving departments and regions (e.g. recognition of some legislative powers for Corsica, but not a formal definition as a ‘Corsican people’ as a political identity) greater economic and planning policy in a range of areas (Sadran 2003, p55). From 2001, France has also sought to balance the number of men and women candidates, a trend that has only begun to bite in municipal elections (Milner & Parsons 2003, pp8-9).

  5. France developed a strong welfare and superannuation system, in part to chart a moderate socialist path, and it part because of the strong role accorded the state in areas such as education, health, and welfare. Although elements of this have been retained, in part through deficit spending, this remains a serious challenge for government policy. Key areas of policy such as the 35 hour working week, with some partial exemptions for very small businesses made in 2002 (Ewing 2004), have been made on the basis of productivity and flexibility agreements, leading to some greater intensity of work, and to only a moderate impact on unemployment (see Escalle 2003). The aim was to improve the quality of life and reduce unemployment, first applying the law to companies with more than 20 employees, then smaller operations (Escalle 2003, pp143-144). Impact on unemployment was limited, with 152,000 new jobs created through 2000, a little reduction among a hard core of youth unemployment (Escalle 2003, pp146-147). The ability to enshrine a new basis for social participation based on this leisure has also been limited (Escalle 2003, p147). Likewise, the aging population and demographic of France has made the maintenance of pension and early retirement schemes problematic (Hayward 2003, p39). In general, these issues seem a ‘time-bomb’ for the future of social security in France as a whole (Hayward 2003, p40).

  6. In related areas, there has been an effort by France to retain and use its unique culture as a focus for national integration and for international prestige. This has focused on the promotion of French, protecting the ‘purity’ of the language, and supporting the idea of a francophone global community. Likewise, French film, television, news shows, and media have been viewed as representing a balance to ‘Americanisation’ and to a loss of national identity. On this basis, too, tensions have emerged in the WTO over whether some exceptions need to be made for cultural products that a not just commodities, with efforts to have some of these trends to be supported by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) and agreements on cultural diversity (the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity) to support national TV and movie industries, a move resisted by the U.S. (which has recently returned to UNESCO membership) in ongoing negotiations through 2003-2005 (see further Edwards 2003; Bennett & Pryor 2003). Here, some layering of French and European levels may become importantly, especially among younger generations, though problematic among conservative groups (Hanley 2003, p30).

  7. Within France, one key political group have been farming lobbies that have via protest and political activity been able until recently to retain strong leverage on French and some degree EU level agricultural policies, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has sought to first strengthen, and then regulate and rationalise European agricultural production. These policies have since been modified with greater agricultural subsidies being directed to new EU member states, especially in Eastern Europe. Likewise, patterns of indirect protectionism have been made against both France, the EU and US, complicating recent WTO rounds on agriculture through 2001-2003 (see Schott 2003; for recent U.S. bans on French beef products, see Hagstrom 2004). There have been hopes that these tensions might be moderated at the 2004 G-8 (Group of Eight meeting), so that later WTO meetings might come to stronger dialogue on agriculture in pursuit of the objects of the Doha Round through January 2005 (Finance CustomWire 2004), and also allow a great space for the openning export of food products from developing countries.

  8. Within France, the issue of the meaning of being a French citizen and its cultural content has become debated, especially as France moves to a reality of being multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and in a de facto sense, multi-cultural. In this setting, recent election trends do suggest some alienation and disenchantment with the current political system. (Milnes & Parsons 2003, p14).

  9. Following on from this, has been the debate of the role of immigrants, guest workers, and particular migrations flows form Algeria and north Africa. This groups have not easily assimilated in the image of French mainstream culture, a trend which has been exaggerated by recent security concerns. At the broader level, this has raised the issue of which French national and republican policy can really deal with the diversity of multiculturalism of modern Europe. In this setting, for example, Islam emerges as the second largest religion in France, and when compared with the 8-9% of highly active Catholics, this has worried conservative commentators (Hanley 203, p28). At the broader level, it can also be asked in the post-2001 whether France and Europe as a whole is really willing and able to protect the rights of its Muslim Minorities, in spite of the legal requirement to do so. The issue of the division between Church and State, a core tenant of French republican tradition (see further below), has also be re-iterated through February 2004 with the National Assembly banning all religious symbols in state schools, including headscarves, turbans, skullcaps, and large crosses (Milner & Parsons 2003, p12).

  10. Part of the landscape is the continued voice of the extreme right, including the Front National, to claim the dangers of immigration, a desire to return to a traditional view of a more nationalist and uni-cultural France. Even if elections through 2002 suggest more a partial collapse of the appeal of socialist candidates rather than the true popularity the far right, it shows that there is also a pool of discontent and protest concerning current government strategies (Milner & Parsons 2003, p1), perhaps also reflected in the municipal elections in March 2004 in which Chirac’s UMP (= Union for the Presidential Majority) party performed poorly. Continued poor electoral performance in June 2004 European level elections has put increased pressure on the public performance of PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

  11. These factors have also meant that France is one of the key supporters of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue process, alongside Spain and Italy. On this basis, it seeks positive dialogue and development with all North African and Mediterranean countries, thereby reducing the push factor in illegal migration, as well as hoping for sustained stabilisation in Morocco, Algeria, and Libya. This is part of the wider Mediterranean Regional Program of the European Union (EU), with targeted development funds going into the region (see further below).

Officially, France presents itself as a global leader based on ‘diversity, solidarity, urbanity and universalism’ – underneath this, however, France has been ‘remade’ in several ways over the last decade (Milner & Parsons 2003, p2). Likewise, European integration and expansion remains controversial for France in that it reduces the areas of state and national intervention (‘economic, social and defence policy’), and remains based on benefits (economic, political and social) from access to the expanding EU (Milner & Parsons 2003, p10). We might ask whether the France is the ‘leopard’ of Europe (staying the same while changing its spots), or whether a fundamental transition has occurred underneath apparently consistent national policy (see Milner & Parsons 2003, pp10-11; Sadran 2003, p56). This ‘balancing act’ can be seen a statement of Lionel Jospin in 1999: -

Generally speaking, I believe that France needs to assert itself more on the international scene. Not because of its power, or the lessons that it could give, but because it sees a certain number of international realities in a different light. Although a friend of the United States, it does not systemically share the views of that great nation. Furthermore, France expresses itself as a deeply European culture, enabling it to reconcile national interest and European ambition . . . . The world needs a France that is not like everyone else, that does not follow one unique way of thinking in the international community. (in Sadran, p57)

2. France: A Great Nineteenth Century Power
France is a unique country which has tried to retain a Great Power tradition but at the same time push forward a cohesive vision of cooperative Europe. In one session it will not be possible to do justice to the enormous impact and influence of France on European history from the Middle Age down through the 19th century. Suffice it to say that France gradually emerged as a great power in European affairs, eventually uniting its individual provinces again Norman and British claims, with the state playing a major role in forging a sense of the French nation (Milner & Parsons 2003, p3). France emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries as one of the great powers in Europe, and a major counterbalance against the Habsburg (sometimes also written as Hapsburg) dynasty in Austria. The glories of French culture seemed pre-eminent in the time of Louis XIV and the 'glorious' reign of this 'Sun King' showed that France was a great power on the world stage. It was in France, however, that the pressures of the Old Regime, and particularly its extractive and greedy aristocracy, forced a revolution which swept aside the rights of the nobility and eventually the king, and ushered in the Age of Revolution, and the themes of citizen rights and Republicanism. Prior to this democratic demands had only partially emerged in the intellectual thought of intellectuals such as Rousseau, Locke and Paine, and in partially democratic systems in small states such as Florence, Venice and in parts of Switzerland. Yet this legacy of democracy and 'Rights of Man' did not leave an unmixed tradition - the Terror, in which Republican rights turned into license and state terror were also a legacy of this period (some 35,000-40,000 died as a 'security threat' to the revolution, Moore 1969 p103).
This Republican tradition remained a feature of French history and politics down to the 21st century, with as oscillation between 'Republics' and more autocratic forms of rule under restored kings or emperors (e.g. the restored Bourbons from 1815-1830). Some implications of this republican commitment have been spelled out by Michel Wieviorka: -
This was manifest most clearly in education and the welfare state. The republican ethos was defined by universalism that extolled egalitarian values. Public schooling - free and mandatory - was intended to create the citizens of the future by offering, in principle, the same chances to each child, regardless of social origin. And the welfare state was supposed to compensate for the most severe social inequities by helping the unemployed, ensuring public health and medical progress, and extending access to such programmes. (Wieviorka 1994, pp248-9).
However, a rise in French power in the heart of Europe was also the indirect outcome of this tradition. Napoleon was able to take command of huge 'citizen' armies (Haswell 1973), and his effort to unite Europe during the early 19th century in a new order resulted in one of the most destructive cycles of wars Europe had ever seen, creating the system of states we see on the map today. Though France could challenge the other Great Powers such as England, Austria and Russia, she was unable to beat them in coalition. It was France, too, who would suffer from a unified German power, which would invade her in 1870-71 (taking the region of Alsace and Lorraine), and then involving her in the enormously destructive Great War (1914-1918). Even though France, Britain and the United States won this war, the cost to France was enormous. Millions of men died, the industry and agriculture of large sections of the north were destroyed, and France was for the first time forced to accept that if Germany was allowed to grow powerful, then an unaided France would be unable to contain her. Furthermore, France was deeply splintered within, with large communist, socialist and right-wing parties, whose politics could lead to strikes and street violence, e.g. in one case in 1934 extreme right-wing organisations clashed with police in Paris, leading to some 15-20 killed and 1000-2000 injured (Price 1993, pp236-7). These trends were only partly stopped by the creation of a Popular Front government of all political parties committed to maintaining the democratic republic of France, which took office in June 1936, lead by Léon Blum (Price 1993, pp238-242).
These realities explain some rather unusual emphasis in French foreign policy from the 1920s onward. While Britain was beginning to reconsider her role as coloniser and leader of empire, France turned outward to seek an active role in creating and maintaining a world empire including territories in Asia (Indo-china), Africa (Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire), the Indian Ocean, the Pacific (Noumea, French Polynesia), as well as French interests in Lebanon and Syria, and in parts Latin America (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Martinique in the Caribbean). These regions were partly held for their resources, benefits in trade, and for the advantage of French elites who found richer and more exciting lives in these regions (for the modern legacy of this imperial impulse, see Johnson 1995). Yet the French army and navy, though concerned about insufficient forces to protect the heart of France, was also actively engaged in expanding and protecting these imperial domains. The strategic reason behind this was straightforward. Within Europe, France by herself could not be certain of remaining stronger than Germany (in spite of the severe clauses of the Versailles Treaty which held Germany responsible for World War I, forced her to yield reparations, and in spite of occupation forces temporarily controlling the Ruhr Valley). Therefore the aim was to great a Greater France (la plus grande France), which by using the resources of empire, could result in a 100 million strong population who would come to metropolitan France's defence in the advent of a new war (Kupchan 1994, p246, pp255-7, pp285-6). On this basis, the impact of World War I was to rekindle 'the imperial impulse among the French elite' (Kupchan 1994, p213).
This idea was not illogical, but it did turn out to have numerous problems. Firstly, it placed a heavy military burden on a France itself recovering from World War I. Secondly, it would involve France in resisting national struggles around the world, and fighting in wars of independence she would be unable to sustain after World War II. It would also place French foreign policy somewhat out of step with the emerging view of Britain and the United States that the age of imperial colonies was over and new states should be allowed to slowly emerge in Asia and Africa.

Modern France (Map Courtesy PCL Map Library)
3. The Shaping of French Policy
After World War I most French people did not want another war and many were not keen to too actively resist the expansion of German claims during the 1930s. This resulted in a rather defensive policy in the 1930s. Although France had set up alliances with Eastern European states such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, she largely relied on a joint British/French policy to restrain German expansionism under Hitler. Furthermore, France had built a huge fortification in depth, the Marginot line, with automated guns and underground railways, to resist any future German aggression. This line had not been extended to cover the Belgium border, even after this country had decided to become neutral in 1936 (Price 1993, p247). It was only in 1938-1940 that the French began to consider defending this region in depth, hoping that her forces there would be sufficient to block any German advance. Likewise, the Ardennes region was viewed as too wooded and rough for large scale forces to move through was not fully protected. In general, France was developing an army heavy in defensive weaponry (antitank and anti-aircraft guns), but one that was 'extremely limited in terms of both mobility and offensive capability' (Kupchan 1994, p220).
The German blitzkrieg (mobile armoured warfare) when it came was exactly through the lightly defended region of the Ardennes, pushing through French lines with astonishing speed. In 1940, after only a few weeks of determined but outmoded fighting, the French army was forced to surrender (for vivid accounts of this campaign, see Rommel 1984; Hart 1970). The Germans took 1,850,000 prisoners, 92,000 French troops had died (indicating intense fighting), and more than 6-7 million refugees flooded roads to travel southward (Price 1993, p248). Paris was taken by German forces, with German troops marching through the streets of Paris in victory, a vision never to be forgotten by French leaders. An armistice was set up, with the north of France being directly governed by the Germans, and the south being controlled by a largely puppet government at Vichy, lead by the conservative Marshal Pétain, who seemed to have hoped to avoid the excesses of German control, to maintain public order, and probably avoid any take-over by communists and socialist elements. His authoritarian motto of 'Work, Family, Homeland', was to replace the Republican theme of liberty, fraternity and egality (Price 1993, p253). The defeat of the French army, the armistice, the Vichy collaboration, the occupation of France, and the later liberation by allied and resistance forces, were all to leave profound marks on French politics, French strategic doctrine, and on the way France approached European affairs. Thenceforward, French leaders vowed that France would never be invaded again - she had to make herself inviolable.
The first effect was a sense of great vulnerability (Kupchan 1994, p296). Within Europe, France had been defeated twice in less than a hundred years, and its one victory in World War I had been an incredibly expensive one. The case of World War II not only gave the free French forces and their leaders (General de Gaulle) great prestige, but also largely tipped French politics towards nationalist, socialist and 'Radical' parties and away from the conservative groups (Price 1993, pp306-7). Indeed, many socialists were almost 'unthinking nationalists' after their experiences in the French Resistance during World War II (Kupchan 1994, p293). Hence, between December 1945 and May 1946 major segments of economic and industrial infrastructure in France were nationalised, including most banking and insurance companies, gas, electricity, coal-mines, as well as major firms like Renault (partly because some of the previous directors had been involved in collaborating with the German or Vichy governments, Price 1993, p276). Furthermore, French politics at this stage firmly believed in interventionist economics (government regulation of the economy), and relied on elements of a welfare state to ensure that France did not veer towards communism. Under the 1946 Constitution, social security was recognised as a right, and protection was given 'against sickness, old age and accidents at work' and women were given the vote (Price 1993, p290, p302). Fear of social revolution remained a strong force in French politics, and in this context even moderate socialist parties would take strong actions against strikers and demonstrations, e.g. the 60,000 riot police mobilized against striking miners in 1947 (Price 1993, pp308-9). These policies in basic outline lasted down till the 1980s (Price 1993, p277).
The experience of war, defeat and occupation also left the French examining their role in the war. Acts of both collaboration and bravery could be found, but a great uncertainty about the unity of French social life, and about a 'betrayal' of the Republic remained. These splits in the perception of France and what its should mean and do as a nation, remain one of the driving forces of French policy down till today. France was left with a sense not just of military weakness, but of a nagging moral weakness (Kupchan 1994, p286). It is not surprising that since the end of the war a number of politicians and military leaders have returned to images of French greatness and grandeur as the basis of a new vision for a unified France. Indeed, the nationalism card has been played in direct ways by current leaders such as President Chirac (see below).
Likewise, the policy of maintaining a foreign empire would soon run into great difficulties. At the end of the war against Japan in the Pacific, French forces marched back into Indo-China (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) in order to reassert French control. Both U.S. and British sources tried to suggest that the time for overseas empire was now over, but France saw Indo-china as an integral part of their security as a great power in the world stage. From this point of view, to lose one part was to lose all parts, and to be perceived as the 'sick man' nation of the 20th century (a view expressed by General de Lattre in 1951, in Kupchan 1994, p288). As a result, France reinforced its troops in the region, fighting against the dogged Viet Minh forces led by Ho Chi Minh, who received supplies from China, and waged a skilful People's War largely based on the nationalist tendencies of the Vietnamese people. Soon France was losing more officers than could be graduated from her military academies, and even sent letters to retired officers around the world (even those who had emigrated to other countries), asking them if they would return to active service. Even with the aid of considerable supplies of U.S. material (the French did not want too much of a U.S. presence, Kupchan 1994, p280), the French could not avoid being worn down and then taken to the conventional stage of people's war. They were defeated in the major battle Dien Bien Phu in 1954. In total, some 92,000 servicemen were lost, and Vietnam was partitioned along the 17th parallel, with the French expeditionary force withdrawing from the country (Price 1993, p311).
But this was only one problem area in the empire. The second major problem emerged in Algeria, which was viewed as even more central to France's interests. Large numbers of French citizens had settled in Algeria, and a cosmopolitan culture had emerged in Algeria's cities. From 1954 serious strife began in Algeria, with these issues spilling over into French politics. Yet by 1962 the French were engaged in a desperate war of liberation against forces who also used guerilla tactics and were supported by secret urban networks. Many French intellectuals, and segments of the socialist parties, were opposed to the war, which had led to atrocities on both sides. On the other hand, leaders as diverse as Mitterand and the ex-paratrooper Le Pen insisted that Algeria should remain part of France (Price 1993, pp312-3). Altogether, some 400,000 troops were committed, but were still unable to control the independence fighters (Pierre & Quandt 1995, p139). Yet when the French government decided to withdraw from Algeria, this caused such discontent that the home government almost suffered from a coup d'etat by disgruntled French military commanders. It was precisely in this context that General de Gaulle stepped forward in May 1958 to restore stability and to avoid severe fighting between different factions within France. He convened the National Assembly, was granted energy powers for 6 months, and prepared a new constitution which was put to a referendum on 28 September, bringing the Fourth Republic to an end (Price 1993, pp317-8). De Gaulle pulled France out of Algeria, a move that was so unpopular with the extremist Algérie française party that the President was almost assassinated in 1962. The strong presidential form of government that France has today is still largely a de Gaulle legacy. Defence and foreign affairs policies, in particular, are often shaped by this office under strong Presidents (Price 1993, pp322-3), for better or worse.
France also found itself, after World War II, like most Western European states, largely reliant on the Marshall Plan and the aid provided from the U.S. to rebuild their economies. France received some $2.6 billion in aid, of which $2.2 billion was non-repayable (Price 1993, p305). This relative dependence was also expressed through free access to France of American-made goods, open propagation of American views and ideas (for this see Ellwood 1998), and via the reluctant acceptance of the creation of an independence, centralised administration in West Germany (Price 1993, p305). When NATO was first being established (1949-1955), this could only lead, eventually, to the rearmament of West Germany and then its de facto recognition as an independent state within this alliance, a trend which worried France but seemed inevitable (Price 1955, p306; Kupchan 1994, pp268-9). President de Gaulle favoured not so much an integrated Europe, but a looser and more nation-to-nation approach, i.e. Europe of the Nations (Price 1993, pp325-6).
From the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade down to 1957 (the Treaty of Rome which helped initiate the EEC), France realised it had to link itself into the European and then the world economy. France would find the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of 1962 much harder to bear, and negotiated very good terms for its vocal and comparatively numerous farming lobby (Price 1993, pp279-280). In 1973, 60% of farms still had less than 20 hectares, though very small peasant farms of the traditional type soon almost disappeared (Price 1993, p298). CAP had a major institutional role in regulating prices and managing farm production during its first phases: -
The CAP was from the outset a central institution in European integration, as evidenced by the massive amount of resources committed to this domain. Agriculture expenditure amounted to more than 90 per cent of the total EC budget in 1970 and still more than 70 per cent in l985. (39) Within agriculture expenditure, production-related measures received the lion's share to the detriment of structural measures. From 1970 to 1987, market policy represented on average 97.25 per cent of EU agriculture budget; the remaining 2.75 per cent was allocated to structural measures. Commodity regimes, formally known as Common Market Organisations (CMOs), represented the building blocks of market policy. These CMOs provided for a 'set of coherent and structured mechanisms, whose objective is to regulate a group of agricultural products and the products resulting from the first transformation'. (40) Intervention agencies were set up for each commodity regime to buy, store and, when necessary, destroy products whenever market prices reached a floor level determined in relation to the intervention price'. To complement this system, policy makers created import levies and export refunds to insulate EU farmers from world market fluctuations. Price support gave farmers incentives to produce ever more, regardless of the environmental, market and budgetary consequences. In spite of the broad imbalances thus created, the regime remained intact during this period. This outcome reflected the political compromises of the 1960s, notably the decision to support farm income by guaranteeing agricultural prices rather than by creating deficiency payments, and it upheld the view of farmers as producers of goods for the food industry. (Roederer-Rynning 2002)
This French farming lobby remains very active today, and through the 1990s repeatedly organised effective strikes and demonstrations in order to make its point of view known to Paris, Brussels and Washington (for this 'agricultural corporatism', see Meunier 2000). Concern over this group have also helped ensure that the European Union's agricultural policies remain firm, and somewhat limited to world access, a point which has brought them into conflict with the United States, and to a lesser extent with countries such as Australia. As new countries join the European Union, the funding from the CAP has been partly diverted into agricultural reform in prospective new members in Eastern Europe, once again raising concern among smaller farmers in France and other parts of Western Europe (see further Roederer-Rynning 2002). Thus up to 300,000 farmers in Poland, for example, could apply for direct funding, with total payments of up to 6 billion zlotys (Financial Times 2004). This means that the issue of the EU budget may need serious debate and reform through 2004-2006 (Economist 2001). By June 2002, the Netherlands and Germany had called for a serious review of the agricultural subsidy system of the EU before expansion to include new member begins, an issue that also has serious implications for France, with some diversions of funds into new members in East Europe (Vinocur 2002). These policies have now been fitted into a wider agenda on sustainable farming, environmental protection (in the past the CAP was criticized for overuse of inputs and pesticides), and rebuilding some smaller, damaged farming communities. This would be an even more serious issue if Turkey become a full member of the European Union in future, or if ever Ukraine might successfully apply for members (both are strong agricultural producers).
The Fourth Republic, born at the end of World War II, could not find a stable centre. Its parliamentary-based system of the Fourth Republic (with a two house system, with the uppers house and the President with weak powers) was replaced under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle, whose popularity helped establish a presidential system of government in which the President had great powers. These included an independent electoral mandate, a long term of office (reduced from seven to five year after a referendum in 2000), the right to place referenda before the republic and the right to select a Prime Minister to form the government, though the government remained responsible to the National Assembly, which could remove it by a vote of no confidence (Price 1993, p303, p319). De Gaulle also attempted to establish a strong independent line for France's foreign affairs, including withdrawing from integration in the NATO command system, which he felt had been too dominated by American influences, in 1966 (Adréani 1998, p25), and the creation of an independent nuclear deterrent designed to make France inviolable. This 'nationalist' aspect was largely a reaction against the sense of vulnerability experienced during World War II. However, there were other key aspects of this policy. These included the maintenance of France's strong role in Europe, an independent voice within the Europe-Atlantic system, and some leverage within the emerging global system of trade and diplomacy.
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