European Misunderstanding

By André Gauron; Keith Torjoc | Go to book overview

The European Question

Since its origin, the integration of Europe has been based on a misunderstanding. A misunderstanding named “Fear.” Not fear of Communism, which had been such an easy pretext for so long, but fear of Germany. It has been haunting Europe since the end of the Second World War and has determined the politics of France. Thus was born the condominium that France and Germany believed they could impose on their partners. Chancellors and Presidents — Adenauer and de Gaulle, Schmidt and Giscard d’Estaing, Kohl and Mitterand — embodied this plan. But can France and Germany still lead the construction of Europe? The question is not often asked, out of fear of causing a seismic political event not only on both sides of the Rhine, but throughout Europe. How could it be otherwise, since the Franco–German relationship is founded on “the will to preserve peace on the continent,” of which it considers itself the guarantor — as if peace were not the business of all the European people. However, the question must be raised.

Progressive enlargement of Europe, quite as much as the fall of the Berlin Wall, deeply transformed the initial conditions of European construction. France and Germany have just over a third of the population and a little less than half of the total Gross Domestic Product of the Europe of 15 members; they have lost the legitimacy they jointly derived from their demographic and economic weight. In addition, the collapse of Communism, which allowed German reunification and the reunion of the two halves of the continent, has changed the terms of German security. Under these conditions, one should not be surprised if the

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