image missing
SiteNav SitNav (0) SitNav (1) SitNav (2) SitNav (3) SitNav (4) SitNav (5) SitNav (6) SitNav (7) SitNav (8)
Date: 2024-03-03 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00016526

Region ... Europe
Focus on France

Is Europe Becoming Gaullist?


Peter Burgess
Is Europe Becoming Gaullist?

Seventy-four years after the end of World War II, Europeans are still divided over competing notions of national sovereignty and regional integration. But with the rise of China and the fraying of transatlantic relations, the geostrategic vision of France’s Charles de Gaulle has inevitably returned to the fore.

PARIS – Nearly a half-century after his death, Charles de Gaulle’s star is on the rise again in Europe. In opposing the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Economic Community (EEC), de Gaulle, the leader of the French Resistance against Nazi Germany and founder of France’s Fifth Republic, now looks prescient. The Brexit fiasco seems to have confirmed his view that the British do not share Europe’s destiny. Add to this the chorus of voices calling on the European Union to develop its own defense capacity, refuse US President Donald Trump’s injunctions on trade, rehabilitate the state’s role in the economy, and get tough on China, and one might conclude that Europe is becoming Gaullist in an age of American nationalism, Russian revisionism, and Chinese ambition. Ideas about European autonomy that were long dismissed as dangerous – including by the Germans who today feel the impact of power politics – are gradually becoming mainstream.

Much of the current debate about Europe’s future is based on a widespread misconception: that the EU is powerless to shape global affairs because its member states are irreconcilably divided on countless issues and thus incapable of acting collectively. By this logic, reasserting the traditional prerogatives of the nation-state seems preferable to the Sisyphean task of building an “ever-closer” union.

But this explanation is inaccurate. Europe’s current position on the world stage reflects the fact that the European project, launched after World War II to end the continent’s chronic bloodletting, was initially based on the rejection of power politics. “Europe,” as its post-war founders conceived it, would embody an explicit repudiation of the conception of politics associated most closely with the German political philosopher and legal theorist Carl Schmitt, who reduced the political to the distinction between friend and enemy. Europe’s challenge today, then, is to replace that conception with one that can cope with power politics.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now. SUBSCRIBE

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

Already have an account or want to create one? Log in

Zaki Laïdi ZAKI LAÏDI Writing for PS since 2012 26 Commentaries Zaki Laïdi is Professor of International Relations and European Affairs at Sciences Po. His most recent book is Le reflux de l'Europe.

0 Comments on this paragraph, 7 in all 7 Comments on this article WILLIAM WALLACE

Apr 14, 2019

Indeed. But one cannot help but marvel at the number of times the term 'unthinkable' was used... and appropriately so! A sign of the times.

While the article deals with continental Europe, meanwhile we have the chaotic response driven by the utopian freedom gospel now embraced by the US and UK (England&Wales): emotional reactions that are often very self-harming. Since their concept of 'freedom' is that of the unconstrained strongman, it has no proper model of governance, and increasingly relies on an anti-science stance to silence opposition to the harms done by predatory practices. The Anglo world, if you will, has chosen anger and retreat from reason, a sure recipe for steep competitive decline. Let's hope Europe does better.


Apr 13, 2019

The EU has been operating until 20 years ago (when it was called EEC) as a Confederation. Members were sovereign but cooperated to achieve synergy. Much like the NATO operates until today.

The question is now how the EU can be made stronger in a changing World ?

To continue with the Confederation model, which was successful for both organizations, or to move to the Federation ( the bloc, which some expect to develop into a EUSSR) ?

The author signals a German problem but we also have a French problem in the EU.

That is it's centralised vision and that they do not function as teamplayers in the EU.

- The French fail to see that too much centralization leads to stagnation and is also a threat to the freedom of the citizen. On the Global Competitiveness Index Germany ranks 3 rd. France 17 th.. France has also a very long tradition of friction between the centralized Elite and the citizen ( yellow jackets, 1968 ). Of course we also have the many communist states in the past century, who all failed (except China) because of stagnation as a result of centralization.

Instead of learning from failures France tries to export their dissastreous ideas to the EU.

- When you have a cooperation / Union you try to develop teamwork although each member always has it's own interest. France does not encourage teamwork in the EU. Examples: The Franco-German axis. The private meetings between Macron and Merkel.

Because of her ideas and behavior France opens opportunities for the EU Commission to developed itself as an unelected EU Government.

The EU has problems with the Brexit, with Hungary and Italy, but I think France was and still is by far the biggest problem for the development of the EU. De Gaulle did some good and some bad things, but it is of little relevance to to-days challenges.

France is keeping itself isolated from the world. It should more address the future instead of embracing the past.


Apr 13, 2019 Nationalism rising in Europe's current governments?


Apr 12, 2019 What is happening is one more realignment of national identities within EU and no need to shout ,’ the sky is falling’. A realigned EU will continue to remain a very important force in the global liberal order. Now that new actors, China, Japan, Korea, S.Africa,... etc. from abroad are demanding their rightful place in community of nations, it is better to encourage European nations to share a common vision and practice what they preach and remain strong as a block!

Read More Reply PETER SCHAEFFER Apr 12, 2019 Mikhail Gorbachev famously said:

'The most puzzling development in modern politics is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.'

It is so true. Like the USSR, the EUSSR is doomed.

Read More Reply P. KAMATH

Apr 13, 2019

Wrong again. All great empires were held together by coercion and force and not by persuasion or willing mandate of peoples within. See what happened to Czarist , Austria’s-Hungarian, Ottoman, Mughal empires! French were kicked out by the colonized and the British were smart enough to go home without much indignity!

EU is a willing union and a coalition of willing partners and free to enact their laws in cultural, political and legal domains without kowtowing to non-existent central authority. All members have a perception of military threat from outsiders on the periphery and all share common economic interests.

So comparing EU to USSR is absurd! Read More Reply JOHN KORNBLUM

Apr 12, 2019 Ridiculous article Is Europe Becoming Gaullist? ZAKI LAÏDI With even the Germans now giving a nod to European federalization, industrial policy, and an independent security capacity, the European Union could be preparing to get back into the game of power politics. Charles de Gaulle would not be surprised.

7 Add to Bookmarks

op_rogoff2_william potter_getty Images_money The Austerity Chronicles KENNETH ROGOFF reviews a major new work on fiscal retrenchment by three leading researchers on the topic. 32 Add to Bookmarks

op_andrews 4_Bettmann_getty Images_vietnam The Living Lessons of Vietnam JOHN ANDREWS reviews three recent books on America’s debacle in Indochina, and considers its lasting imprint on US policy. 1 Add to Bookmarks

op_janeway2_big_tech_is_watching Big Tech Is Watching – and Being Watched WILLIAM H. JANEWAY examines how digital-platform monopolies emerged and the nature of the growing threat they pose.

© Project Syndicate - 2019 | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Cookie Policy
Apr 12, 2019
The text being discussed is available at
Amazing and shiny stats
Blog Counters Reset to zero January 20, 2015
TrueValueMetrics (TVM) is an Open Source / Open Knowledge initiative. It has been funded by family and friends. TVM is a 'big idea' that has the potential to be a game changer. The goal is for it to remain an open access initiative.
The information on this website may only be used for socio-enviro-economic performance analysis, education and limited low profit purposes
Copyright © 2005-2021 Peter Burgess. All rights reserved.