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CultureUnited Europe

One would not think that France, a former world power, would not want to be part of the European Union, especially when it enlarged to twenty-five nations in 2004. Wouldn't that just signal Frances' fall as a world power? Yes, it would, but it is also a way back to being a world power, albeit not quite all the way.

The French still see their nation as the most influential nation in Europe, politicians more so than the general population. This is the main reason that the French favor a united Europe. It is a way for France to return to some of its former glory by being the most influential nation in the twenty-five nations that will soon become a part of the European Union. In terms of political and financial power, the European Union is seen in France as powerful as the United States.

Why do the French see their nation as the most influential in Europe? For a few reasons, starting with the fact that it is the nation that is the most influential both politically and economically. Germany can't assume that role because of the stigma still associated with its losses in both WWI and WWII. The second reason is that the other nation, Great Britain, that could assume a leading role in the European Union, won't even admit it's a part of Europe geography. This, along with the British not willing to cede any political power to an authority outside its borders, makes it impossible for the UK to assume a leadership role politically. So that leaves France, the French thinking goes, as the leader of Europe.

Of course, this thinking could be wrong, but really it does not matter because it has more to do with the French need for self-esteem than it does with political reality. This self-esteem is not about the man or woman in the street, the every person; it is about French politicians. I always get the feeling that, when French politicians talk about a strong and united Europe, something they talk about often, they are really talking about a strong France leading an untied Europe. Now, I might be reading between the lines incorrectly, I could be wrong, but it's hard for me to think that the French are really ready to give so much power to an authority other than one in Paris.

Another way of looking the question as to why the French seem so enthusiastic, again their politicians more so than the general population, is that France is a very centralized country politically. Most rules and regulations come Paris or each department capital; local communities tend to very little control over choices like tax rates, school curriculum and hunting season, to just name a few. So, in this context, it is understandable why a united Europe is so favored in France.

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