French Foreign and European Policy

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Political Science
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After the horror of World War Two, the nations of Western Europe looked to create new relations founded no longer on the use of force but rather of confidence and law between themselves and the rest of the world. They drafted a project to create an ¨ever closer union among the peoples of Europe¨ by creating institutions, political practices, and a unified market. This European body has slowly become a major economic actor in global commerce.

The geopolitical upheavals of 1989 (the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall along with the collapse of the USSR in 1991) made it necessary for the international political affirmation of this European body and the creation of the ¨European Union¨ (EU) with the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992. After the implementation of the euro (2002) the EU grew to encompass the nations of old Eastern Europe (2004-2007). There are now 28 EU member states (Croatia became a member in July 2013).

Despite economic and political crises, the EU continues to attract neighboring states, such as Turkey and Ukraine, and to test its geographical limits. Due to these crises, however, the EU also incites the skepticism of member nations considering withdrawal. For example, the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the organization of the referendum ¨Brexit¨ in 2017.

The adaptation of the EU to its growing size and complex global geopolitical changes after the Cold War has been, and continues to be difficult. The attempt to create a ¨treaty establishing a European Constitution¨ failed in 2005.  Since 2006-2008 the EU has been confronted by financial, economic, social and monetary crisis. Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy have all been particularly affected. In Greece and Spain the unemployment rate for youth is more than 50%. The crisis affects the Euro, the solidarity between member states, and the future of the EU.

60 years after its conception, the ¨European Construction¨ remains fragile with an uncertain future. 2014 is notable for the European elections that were held in May in each of the 28 EU member states.