It’s no secret that I’d like to see a more vibrant and dynamic Europe. That probably won’t happen in my lifetime, though. The path that most European countries have chosen leads to gradual insignificance rather than any revitalized role on the world stage.
I was idly reading this news item, which details the debate in France over the coming vote to ratify the EU Constitution, when I was struck dumb by a few paragraphs which outline the position of those opposed to ratification.
Like Chirac, “no” campaigners on the left have been using the United States as a foil, saying the treaty will open the door to American-style free-market capitalism rather than defend against it. They say jobs will be sucked eastward where labor is cheaper; public services will be privatized; France will be forced by EU competition laws to stop funding public firms and workers’ social protections will be trampled. They say a “no” vote will rescue rather than doom Europe.
So that’s what the French are afraid of, basically free market reforms that will increase competition. Nothing new there, but what was so shocking to me was that this is the stance taken by Le Pen, a French politician that is characterized as being “far right” by the press.
If this is the state of French political thought then I doubt they’ll be able to turn things around no matter how the ratification vote goes.