Will the European Parliamentary Elections Give France a New Momentum for “Social Europe”?
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Clearly, pro-EU mainstream French political parties are braced for a drubbing. European elections have always been conducive to antiestablishment protests, given the complexity of the issues dealt with by the European Parliament and their so-called secondary importance. Yet given the high level of unemployment and France’s anaemic economic prospects, this time might be different. The government is faced with the Sisyphus task of again persuading voters that a change for the better is still within reach at EU level. Paradoxically, this might not necessitate a left-wing European Parliament. As this article argues, the notion of “Social Europe” is still relevant to describe the objectives that Paris seeks to achieve by the means of EU integration, but mainly in the context of the eurozone crisis. The European Parliament is a natural but weak ally of the French government on socio-economic coordination, hence the significance of the upcoming European elections needs to be qualified. Restoring confidence with Germany and France’s partners in the country’s ability to regain competitiveness and sustain its welfare system is in fact the real EU priority for the French president.
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