Charlemagne: Désillusion

DOWN a muddy path in a clearing in the forest of Compiègne, in northern France, lies a musty-smelling little museum. Amid scraps from trench life displayed in glass cabinets, the museum’s chief exhibit is an old oak railway-carriage, a replica of wagon 2419D, used on this spot by Marshall Foch to sign the 1918 armistice with Germany—and then by a vengeful Adolf Hitler to secure France’s surrender to Nazi forces in 1940. The modest memorial is a big and sobering reminder of the historical impulses that prompted the French to pursue the post-war European project. As President François Hollande prepares for the centenary of the start of the first world war next year, however, it also exposes a widening gap between those ambitions and a new French ambivalence about the European Union.As a founder-member with Germany, France has, for over half a century, put the construction of Europe and the taming of Germany at the heart of foreign policy. If the British have grown up on tabloid Euroscepticism to regard Europe as a menace to national power, the French have been taught to see Europe as an amplifier of theirs. Europe, according to the French creed, is the solution, not…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/europe/21589895-french-increasingly-think-europe-problem-not-solution-d-sillusion?fsrc=rss|eur

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