Lukewarm reactions to the compromise on the “energy and climate” package

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po
 
Both because of the Poznan Conference and the EU-27 climate summit in Brussels, environmental issues have been largely covered by the French media. In its editorial, “Le Monde” emphasises the importance of these conferences: “the EU not only plays for the future of the international climate change treaty, but also for its economic future and international statute”.[1] Therefore, in view of these challenges, reactions to the final agreement have been lukewarm.
 

EU praised for its reactivity to the Georgian crisis

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po
 
The military conflict in Georgia has been massively discussed in France. First of all, it was observed that, confronted with an international crisis, the European Union appeared to be unusually active, in comparison with the paralysed attitude of the United States.[1] According to “Les Echos”, the EU finally snapped out of its customary irresponsibility and realised that post Cold War Russia is its true problem.[2] Some experts, such as J. Sapir from “Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales” (EHESS) criticised EU’s attitude considering that it failed to enforce international law.[3] However, most observers insist on positive aspects of the EU’s behaviour.
 

A presidency of crisis

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po
 
The French Presidency’s assessment is quite balanced, depending on the issues and the observers. The main success underlined is the ability showed by the French Presidency to deal with the two international crises that emerged during its term: the Georgian conflict and the financial and economic crisis. According to Jean-Dominique Giuliani, President of the Robert Schuman Foundation, the French President dealt with the different crisis in an absolutely brilliant way, “allowing ambitious decisions to be taken by the EU and materialised a European willingness that seemed to ‘dissolve’ into a discordance culture”.[1]
 
The way it dealt with the Russo-Georgian crisis appears as one of the first and main successes of this Presidency, almost unanimously recognised by French media. According to “Les Echos”, Sarkozy managed to present a well balanced proposition, preserving European interests, and helped Europe to mediate the conflict in a way it had never managed before.[2] Thierry Chopin (Professor at the College of Europe) and Lukas Macek (Sciences Po) consider that France managed to play a good mediator role in this crisis allowing, for the first time, Europe to end a conflict on its own initiative.[3]
 

EU needs to play a determinant role

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po
 
All political and economical actors, as well as observers in France, strongly underlined the determinant role that the European Union needs to play in the regulation of financial capitalism. The French Presidency announced its willingness to strengthen and increase the EU prerogatives in terms of financial regulation, especially on financial institutions.[1] Nicolas Sarkozy underlined the necessity of reinforcing the rules of governance and internal control within these institutions, and of a better control of rating agencies. The report elaborated by French ‘Commissaire aux Comptes’, René Ricol, on the financial crisis draws conclusions leading to this direction. Among them, it suggests to allow the European Parliament to tackle the issue of the recent increase of raw material’s prices.[2] As for French Trade Unions, they are largely advocating for a strong role of the EU in regulating the economic and financial system. As the major Trade Union CFDT points out, “the positive role of tense periods is to rediscover the role of the EU and its institutions […] Managing these difficulties imposed urgent and coordinated initiatives with undreamt success, even regarding the financial crisis”.[3]
 
Unity prevailed throughout the crisis
 

Hope may be replaced with deception

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po

In France, like in other EU member states, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States has been warmly welcomed. French President Nicolas Sarkozy in his letter of congratulations to Obama informed him of the immense hope in France, Europe and beyond: “the hope of an open America, characterized by solidarity and strength that will once again lead the way, with its partners, through the power of its example and the adherence to its principles”.[1] According to philosopher André Glucksman, this hope even led European public opinion to overlook the more inconvenient sides of Barack Obama. Europeans, he thinks, have delegated to him the task of looking after the woes of the world and the challenges of the near future.[2] According to Ezra Suleiman, political science Professor, they are expecting too much and this hope may be replaced with deception.[3]
 
First priority: reinforcing multilateralism
 

The future of the EU after the Irish ‘No’: many uncertainties

France
Centre européen de Sciences Po
 
Conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty