This week in my French conversation group, Ohlala French Coffee, we will talk about Europe and the European Union. This made me want to talk to you about France's place in the European Union. For more than 70 years, France has been part of the European Union and is one of the founding members of this organization. But what does this mean? What is the purpose of the EU, the European Union? What influence does France have on the EU? Let's talk about it! Here we go!
Summary of the history of the European Union:
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Europe is bruised, weakened and has only one idea in mind: peace. Europeans keep repeating this sentence when talking about the war: Never again! The victorious countries, but also the losers of the Second World War, discussed and exchanged ideas about the creation of a common space between several European countries.
In 1951, the ECSC, the European Coal and Steel Community, was created. And yes, the first association created was an industrial association. Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy decided to create the ECSC in order to facilitate the trade and consumption of coal and steel in these six countries.
Robert Schuman, French Foreign Minister and considered one of the founding fathers of Europe, declared that through this union, war was unthinkable and materially impossible.
In 1957, the six countries went further and signed the Treaty of Rome, which led to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC). What does this mean? It means that these six countries, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy, pool their economic sectors, facilitate trade between them and implement common policies.
From that moment on, the European Economic Community will continue to grow and integrate new countries.
In 1985, the Schengen area was created, which is very important because it implies the abolition of borders and the free movement of people in the member countries.
Another important date: 1992. The Maastricht Treaty is signed and the European Union is created. We no longer speak only of economic union, but of political and legal union. And in 2002, the Euro becomes the single currency of the majority of the member countries.
France and the European Union:
As we have seen, France is one of the founding countries of Europe and therefore has a central place in the European Union. Along with Germany, France is one of the most active countries
Geographically, France is integrated into the European megalopolis through the Paris basin and the northern and eastern regions. The European megalopolis extends from London to Milan. France is also strongly integrated into the EU through the cross-border regions. These are foreign regions where there is a lot of trade, such as Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Strasbourg, a city in eastern France, is also considered a European city. Two European institutions are located there: the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights.
In France, there is a strong feeling of belonging to Europe and to the European Union. We share the same values: peace, democracy, freedom, respect for human beings and their dignity. Even if we have to admit it, we can't say that all the member countries of the European Union have the same purchasing power. The EU tries to reduce these inequalities by creating programs such as the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) which provides financial support to certain regions.
Even if, the feeling of belonging to the EU in France is very strong. There has been a rise in euroscepticism in recent years. Some people are not in favor of France being part of the EU and think that France no longer has control over its economy and politics.