The 1992 Treaty of Maastricht came two years after the unification of Germany and laid the groundwork for the 2002 introduction of the euro. The French elite was afraid for the resurgence of a new German powerhouse. To eliminate the dominant Deutschmark, they wanted to extend the use of the German currency to the whole European Common market and have it renamed to the euro. In 1992, Le Figaro wrote that the “Maastricht is the Treaty of Versailles without war”.1)France, Germany and the European Union: Maastricht and After 2003 Author:Aparajita Endow A French observer noticed, “Maastricht is only a calculated move against the predominance of the Bundesbank and against an independent German currency.”2)France, Germany and the European Union: Maastricht and After 2003 Author:Aparajita Endow
The French people were less convinced as a 1992 referendum showed: a meager 51% of them voted in favor of the Maastricht Treaty3)French Maastricht Treaty referendum, 1992 Source Wikipedia. The currency union was thought of as a precursor of a political union that sometime in the future would not only be a necessity but, at least that’s what was believed in Paris 1992, would restore France’s leading role in the world. After the withdrawal from Vietnam (1954), the failed Suez invasion(1956)4)Suez Crisis Source Wikipedia, and the loss of Algeria (1962) France’s role in the world was diminished, and that is why Europe was supposed to be the springboard by means of which Paris wanted to restore France’s grandeur on the world stage: it was not so much France, which became a part of the European Union, but the European Union, which became France.
2016 marks a new milestone in the demise of France as a nation that matters in Europe and the world. In 2015 during the Greek crisis it was already clear that France had no say anymore5)The Fate of Greece: Decision Time for Tsipras and Merkel Source Spiegel Online 2015-07-10. In August 2015 Merkel announced “Wir schaffen das”6)Wir shaffen das Source Wikipedia and told the world that Germany and Europe were willing to accept the millions of refugees that entered the continent through Turkey; she did not once bother to consult Paris or other European capitals. It is Berlin rather than Paris or Brussels that determines the fate of Europe.
In March the EU struck a deal on the refugee flow with Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s prime minister. Germany negotiated this arrangement that includes a refugee swap, visa-free travel, and European access negotiations without the involvement of or consultancy from France. Despite the agreement the Dutch, who are currently chairing the European Union, assured the Europeans that “visa-free traveling for Turkey is far away,” it simply will not happen. 7)Visa-free travel and EU membership of Turkey is still far away Source NOS 2015-03-08 Within one month Brussels awarded eighty million Turks visa-free travel to the old continent. While the world does not seem to have noticed that France was sidelined, France did!
Le Monde wrote: “The night Angela Merkel Has Lost Europe.” Le Monde described the agreement as a coup of the chancellor that would leave deep wounds; also many in Brussels have lost their trust in Berlin.8)La nuit où Angela Merkel a perdu l’Europe Source Le Monde 2016-03-16 On another French website we can read: “The Divorce of Germany, Merkel blew up the heart of the European engine.” 9)Divorce à l’allemande Source sauseur 2016-03-29”The Franco-German European relationship is clinically dead since the Chancellor had the EU conform to the dictates of Erdogan, without even bothering to consult the Elysee.”
In Le Parisien Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, an independent presidential candidate said: “Angela Merkel, who negotiated alone with the Turkish Prime Minister, imposed what had been agreed on François Hollande. This is the first time a French president was securely kept out!” 10)Avec l’accord UE-Turquie, on se jette dans la gueule du loup Source Le Parisien 2016-03-18
During Obama’s April visit to Germany both leaders made clear they wanted to speed up the TTIP negotiations and close the deal this year11)Obama, Merkel push for trade deal as foreign crises weigh Source Reuters 2016-03-25. After Greenpeace leaked secret TTIP documents this week, Merkel announced that she and her ministers worked to seal the TTIP-treaty as soon as possible, and that she wanted Europe to sign it in 2016. 12)Freihandelsabkommen: Merkel will TTIP schnell abschließen Sourece Spiegel Online 2016-05-02 Again Paris does not carry much weight in shaping the future of Europe whatsoever. It comes as no surprise that François Hollande said the same day that France would reject the deal, which can be looked upon as a rebuke administered to Berlin. The French officials announced that negotiations between the US and EU are “likely to stop” amid significant disagreements between the two sides over the free-trade agreement13)TTIP talks ‘likely to stop’, say officials, as François Hollande signals France will reject deal Source Independent 2016-05-03 just hours after Merkel announced that Berlin wanted to finish the deal, which shows the deep resentment between the Elysee and the German Chancellery. Berlin has declared France as (ir)relevant as any of the other 28 members of the bloc. Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister, revealed last year that the German finance minister Schäuble told him that the ultimate goal was to send the Trojka to Paris14)Varoufakis: Schäuble will bring troika to Paris. Source Politico 2015-08-03. While some of the France’s ruling elite are still in a state of denial and believe Brussels is dependent on the Elysee, some start to understand Brussels is a German Trojan horse in the EU, with the only option left for the French elite being to fight both Berlin and Brussels. Terminating the TTIP deal is their first blow.
References [ + ]
|1, 2.||↑||France, Germany and the European Union: Maastricht and After 2003 Author:Aparajita Endow|
|3.||↑||French Maastricht Treaty referendum, 1992 Source Wikipedia|
|4.||↑||Suez Crisis Source Wikipedia|
|5.||↑||The Fate of Greece: Decision Time for Tsipras and Merkel Source Spiegel Online 2015-07-10|
|6.||↑||Wir shaffen das Source Wikipedia|
|7.||↑||Visa-free travel and EU membership of Turkey is still far away Source NOS 2015-03-08|
|8.||↑||La nuit où Angela Merkel a perdu l’Europe Source Le Monde 2016-03-16|
|9.||↑||Divorce à l’allemande Source sauseur 2016-03-29|
|10.||↑||Avec l’accord UE-Turquie, on se jette dans la gueule du loup Source Le Parisien 2016-03-18|
|11.||↑||Obama, Merkel push for trade deal as foreign crises weigh Source Reuters 2016-03-25|
|12.||↑||Freihandelsabkommen: Merkel will TTIP schnell abschließen Sourece Spiegel Online 2016-05-02|
|13.||↑||TTIP talks ‘likely to stop’, say officials, as François Hollande signals France will reject deal Source Independent 2016-05-03|
|14.||↑||Varoufakis: Schäuble will bring troika to Paris. Source Politico 2015-08-03|