It’s a story of love and hate between France and the EU.
60 %* of them love the euro and wouldn’t want to change it. 68 % think it’s a good thing to be in the EU. And 47 % of them have heard of the European elections 6 months before it happens – back in 2014, this rate was reached only 2 months before the vote.
And where are those EU lovers from? Germany? Belgium? Ireland?
Well no, those numbers relate to France.
But the picture is not complete. France is also the country where nearly a third of the population, 29% exactly, has a negative image of the EU.
Nearly as much as Italians who have a eurosceptic government (31 %) and Greeks, (33%) whose country is still suffering from the debt crisis .
This is the French paradox.
It works a bit like the food one. People in France eat lot of greasy food and drink many bottles of wine, but they have lower cholesterol thanks to duck fat and tannins from the red wine.
It’s not logical at first sight, but it makes sense for medicine.
For politics it’s the same. 18 months ago the French elected a young pro-European president, hoping that kicking-out the traditional parties would help changing the system. Now they are out of love with Macron because nothing has changed – or not much, and not fast enough, and in the wrong direction.
It does not seem logical either but it does express that French voters have bigger expectations.
They want more from their politicians, they want more from the EU, and they need it now because housing, energy and transport prices make workers poor and feed inequalities.
They also expect a lot on improving the environment and know the EU is the only scale to make things happen. The carbon tax might has ignited the Yellow vests anger, but 1,6 million French people signed a petition to support a lawsuit against the state on climate in the last week of December.
It’s a country full of paradox and anger, and the EU is both and asset and a scapegoat. The debate for the EU elections will be tough and violent. But exiting the EU is not part of the discussion except for a tiny minority trying to bank on political instability.
*Source : Eurobarometer december 2018