Qui gouverne ?

Qui gouverne l’Europe ? et qui gouverne en Europe ? Deux questions voisines auxquelles le traité de Lisbonne n’a pas apporté les réponses attendues. Dans cet article, paru dans Quaderni di Politica Internazionale, (13 novembre 2010, numéro spécial : "L’Europa e il suo posto nel mondo"), Pierre Hassner pense que la crise exigerait solidarité et renouveau du projet européen mais que rien n’indique que ce soit la voie sur laquelle s’engagent les gouvernements des Vingt-sept.

 “Who rules Europe” or “Who rules in Europe” ? These two ways of asking the question which is the subject of this article show the infinite ambiguities and complexities contained in these three or four words .

 The question “who rules ?” by itself is already one of the most disputed themes of political thought and practice. Between the rule of law or the rule of one man by divine or traditional right, or simply by force, between “government of the people by the people, for the people” and the rule of one class or one elite, immerable intermediary arrangements exist and compete. The question is even more complicated when one considers a semi-federal institution like the European Union, which combines nation-states, inter-governmental institutions and supra-national ones, whose members are partly appointed by governments and partly elected.

 But Europe is not limited to the European Union. The regimes and policies of the latter’s neighbours, and the geopolitical situation of the continent itself, the constraints, threats and opportunities linked to its regional and global environment are also, inevitably, part of the subject.

 There was a time when, supposedly, “Britania ruled the Waves” and Europe ruled part of the world. During the Cold War, a divided Europe was, to different degrees and in different manners, ruled by the two superpowers. Today, many wonder if it is ruled by the uncontrolled variations of financial markets, or whether it is not becoming essentially inner-directed, leaving the rest of the world to the competition between the United States and China and protecting itself against the winds of economic, demographic and cultural change.

 Among these various directions, I shall concentrate on the attempt, after World War II, to build a new Europe, peaceful, democratic and united and on the limits of its effort to eliminate not only the return of the wars and tyrannies which dominated the first half of the century, but also the age-old struggle for hegemony over the continent.

 The goal of the European enterprise was on the one hand peace, and on the other reconstruction and prosperity. The precondition at the level of states was that they should have a democratic government and a market economy and that they should be more and more interdependent and cooperative. The desired consequence for world affairs was a contribution to decreasing international tensions.

 Among the founding fathers, the trio ofr Christian-democratic statesmen (Adenauer, Schuman and de Gasperi) all originating from the borders of Central Europe, pursued the goal of a federation, along with Benelux, which to some extent would reproduce the Austro-Hungarian empire without the dynastic aspect. It implied an equality among member-states, big or small.

 Jean Monnet’s idea was both broader geographically (to integrate the whole world starting with Western Europe but potentionally destined to the whole planet) and more radical politically, in that it was deliberately counting on social and economic forces to overcome or at least to tie down the tyrannical or warlike ambition of governments. His motto was : “We do not associate states, we unite men”. This was to be done by a combination of functionalism (more and more functions becoming common, not necessarily through harmonious, linear progress, but through a succession of crises each of which could be solved only by a higher degree of unity (the famous “spill-over”) and of federalism : the states were not abolished, but their freedom of action was to be limited from above, by supra-national institutions, and from below, by decentralization and by inter-societal and by inter-regional ties.

 By the same token, their unequal wealth or demographic size could no longer be an instrument of domination or an occasion for aggression.

 A third component, which was not totally absent from the first two, was de Gaulle’s goal of freeing Europe from the domination of the two superpowers and restoring it to its earlier independence and role in the world. But this, for de Gaulle, was to be achieved through an association of independent states, in which France would play a central role and would enjoy a greater freedom of action than others, particularly Germany.

 The philosophy of this third approach was clearly opposed to that of the first two. Unexpectedly, however, after his return to power en 1958, de Gaulle accepted the European institutions he had fought while in opposition : the Coal and Steel Community, the Common Market and Euratom. As Raymond Aron pointed out, this paradoxical result reminds one of the Hegelian “cuming of history” : de Gaulle would not have signed the treaties, the weak French IVth Republic could not have applied them[1].

In the early 60s, an important debate opposed two eminent political scientists, each of whom represented, in the United States, one of the last two points of view. Ernst Haas, in his The Uniting of Europe [2] developed Monnet’s point of view. He predicted that, from spill-over to spill-over, European states would advance from “splitting the difference” between their respective interests to “upgrading the common interest”. Stanley Hoffman, in a famous article “Obstinate or obsolete ?”. The fate of the nation-state in post-war Western Europe”[3] objected that Haas might be right for “low politics” (in particular economics”, but his thesis would not apply to “high politics” involving sovereignty and rank. He criticized Haas’s “saint-simonism” and his neglect of politics. Haas answered that nowadays politics was indeed reduced to a dialogue between technology, bureaucracy and pressure groups which was precisely in conformity with the Brussels scene.

Obviously, Hoffman’s scepticism was right against Haas’s determinism. But, paradoxically, not only, economics, as he would admit himself today, cannot be relegated to the ambiguous domain of low politest. It has much to do with partly distinct and some conflicting interests and with questions of rank and identity. The dialectics of politics and economics is at the center of the question : who rules Europe ?

Indeed the respective ambitions of Germany and France, and their respective conceptions of Europe, have much to do with a dialogue between economics and politics.

We shall briefly sketch the general situation as it appears to-day and then focus more specifically on these two countries which, over the years, have claimed or exerted a decisive influence on the government of Europe.


Does anyone rule Europe ?

 In a recent book edited by former French prime minister, Michel Rocard, and by Prof. Nicole Gnesotto, who holds the chair on Europe at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. Under the title Our Europe, two chapters ask two different aspects of this question.

 The first by veteran European specialist Jean Quatremer, asks :”Are we governed by Brussels ?”. The second, by former French minister for European Affairs Lamassoure, asks “Can Europe function without a leader ?”. Both give a negative answer.

 The first indicates that “the federalist jump has not taken place”[4]. The authoritarian and invasive super-government of Brussels, denounced by the anti-europeanists particularly at the time of the 2005 referendum has never existed. Some important sectors (the negotiations on international trade, then the monetary union) are under its competence, many laws promoted by the European Commission (mostly at the initiative of the various governments and never against their opposition and often on marginal areas) a very modest European budget (essentially limited to the Common Agricultural Policy and to the structural assistance funds to several regions) cannot amount to a government in the absence of budgetary, fiscal, social or military authority.

 Of course, progress has been made towards majority rule, the possibility of special “reinforced cooperations” between several particular states (limited, so far, to the Schengen agreements on travel and, last but not least, to the euro) have been made. Of course, too, the European Court of Justice, with the priority of European laws over national ones, the European Court of Human Rights, the recent growth in the powers and the authority of the European Parliament can be seen as important building blocs for a European Federation.

 But the absence or the failure, for the time being, of most attempts at common policies (on energy, on immigration, on fiscal and social coordination), the modest (although non-ineligible) progress of Europe’s defense policy and the limitations of its nascent diplomatic policies are not encouraging for the prospects of a real federation (a word which had disappeared from the vocabulary of governments and even of the European bureaucracy until Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of one of the most important institutions, the European Central Bank, dared recently to speak of “budgetary federalism” as a desirable prospect in view of the current monetary crisis.

 Should one, then, agree with Michael Stürmer about “economic overstretch combined with political under governance” placing “the whole European Union in jeopardy ?” [5] . Two reasons for hope can be invoked against this pessimism.

 First, the effect of the crisis itself. As Samuel Johnson said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”[6]. To some extent this argument seems justified at least in part and in the short run by the union’s response to the crisis, in spite of Angela Merkel’s initial procrastination for the aid to Greece or of Slovak resistance. But that does not mean that the necessary jump to “budgetary federalism” will be made, given the diversity of economic problems and levels among members of the Union, and the centrifugal tendencies produced by the crisis in their respective public opinions at least as much as the solidary ones.

 The other hope lies in the institutional progress represented by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in its new form. But first, the most important institutional development, which we have not yet mentioned, is that the central and most original innovation of the Rome Treaty, the European Commission, which was supposed to constitute if not the future federal executive, at least a central organ for initiating proposals and promoting the common interest, has been constantly degraded by the governments in favour of the inter-governmental European Council. On the other hand, the long awaited appointment of a more stable President of the Council (along side the 6 month’s rotating presidency of the heads of state) and of a high representative belonging to both of the rival organisms, the Commission and the Council, seems more likely to create complication and confusion than unity and authority, since, at a given time, three presidents (one for the Commission and two for the Council) are competing.

 This brings us to the second article of the Rocard book. To the question : “Can Europe function without a leader ?”, Alain Lamassoure answers : “It had to. It was able to. It no longer can”. For the decisive step of a European when governance would be a reality rather than a slogan and which would pull its weight in terms of security and political influence, is, he maintains, a powerful presidency. Of course, he hastens to add, the president could not be the author of the music nor play the instrument, but he would fulfil the no less indispensable role (as demonstrated, one may add, by Fellini in “Prova d’Orchestra”) of conductor. This is why, Lamassoure concludes in his chapter written in 2009 in an era where media are all important and power is personalized in most European countries (particularly one may add, Latin ones)”, the choice of a well-known and dynamic personality will be essential[7]

 As one knows, this was not the road chosen. One may very well defend this choice, if one remembers that Jacques Delors, who was not favourable to this new institutional post, considered that it would be useful only as a chairman of the board, or as a conciliator, rather than a chief or a symbol. But that means, then, that, as Stürmer puts it in the title of his article “Diversity wins out”. And that, in turn, means that Europe continues to be ruled by its different states.

 The remaining problem is whether they must rule unanimously, or by a majority, or by a de facto oligarchic rule of several greater powers.

 A limited but real progress has been made in the direction of majority, which is determined by a complicated system taking into account the size of the various countries. Even de jure, then, and even more de facto, all European states are equal but some are more equal than others. And this leads us to the second part of our article, i.e. to a comparison between the two countries which have been considered, by themselves or by others, as entitled to a special leading role within the European Union or in its relations with the outside world.


France and Germany : cooperation and rivalry

 In principle one of the main aims of post war European institutions was to make the traditional bids for European hegemony impossible and to guarantee the smaller and middle states a genuine influence and, need be, a veto power, on the way to a European federation. In the collaboration between Adenauer, Schuman and de Gasperi there was the thought of any national primacy, nor in the mind of creative thinkers like Jean Monnet or Altiero Spinelli.

 But the very history of power competition and of distrust which the new Europe was supposed to overcome inevitably played a role in the conscious or unconscious minds of political leaders and public opinions, and in their objective situations. Of the three West European powers which had competed for power in the first half of the century, Britain emerged as a victory (and for a brief period, one of the “superpowers”)[8]. It did abandon its traditional policy to discourage the unity of the continent, since one of the earlier and most eloquent appeals to European unity was Churchill’s Zürich speech in 1948[9]. But he made it very clear that this appeal was addressed to continental Europe and that Britain, for its part, was thinking in terms of three circles (Europe, the Commonwealth and the English speaking peoples) and would always give priority to the latter, in particular to the “special relationship” with the United States. This stance basically remained the same ever since, in spite of Britain’s entry into the Common Market and then the European Union and in spite of several prime ministers (most sincerely and resolutely Edward Heath) wanting it to be present in the heart of Europe, France, defeated and occupied in the first phase of World War II, emerged weakened and dependent but through a number of relatively unexpected circumstances, as one of the victors, awarded a permanent seat in the Security Council and in the occupation zone in Germany. It was lead by the exceptional personality of General de Gaulle, and, later, a member of the select club of nuclear powers. Germany was divided, its free territory nevertheless occupied by the victorious powers, and burdened by the crimes of the nazi regime and by its past hegemonic attempts and its virtual capacity. Italy did not raise the same fears, or suspicions, nor experience the same feeling of catastrophe and guilt, but was like Germany, in search of a new identity, which both found in an identification with Europe, as a perfect contrast to their previous imperial pretensions and adventures.

 As usual, Germany was the centre both of the European problem and of its solution. In the oft-quoted remark of Chancellor Kiesinger in 1967, “Germany has always been too big to play no role in the balance of forces around it and too small to balance them by itself”, or, in another formulation, “too strong or too weak for the peace of Europe”. According to Henry Kissinger, it was “too big for Europe, too small for the world”[10].


A French attempts at hegemony

 During his first tenure (1944 to 1946) de Gaulle’s answer was the traditional one of French policy, keep Germany small either amputated of the left bank of the Rhine and of Saarland, or divided, or both. This policy came to nought through the creation and the rearmament of the Bonn Federal Republic. France, through the Schuman Plan and the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the Western powers, headed by the United States, through the creation of NATO, chose the alternative solution : to create a balance which would be both European and transatlantic, and within which Germany would be strong and would play an essential role but not be left to its own devices. Adenauer understood that this was the only way in which Germany could regain its legitimacy and its sovereignty. But he was also distrustful of the future German generations and wanted European unity to become irreversible as soon as possible in order to tie them up.

 De Gaulle rallied to this logic after 1958, when he came back to power, and accepted the Six powers Europe. But this did not mean he gave up the aim of French primacy.

 In September 1958, this proposal of a world “directoire” of the Atlantic Alliance, in which France would lead Europe, shows his leadership ambitions. He declared on January 31st, 1959, to the French Defense Council : “France has two games to play : one with the two other Western world powers, the other with the small powers”[11]. And he clarifies this thought to his confident Alain Peyrefitte on August 27, 1962 : “What is Europe good for ? It should serve to not let ourselves be dominated either by the Americans or by the Russians. All six together, we should succeed in performing as well as the two superpowers. And if France manages to be the first among the Six, which should be within our power, she will be able to manipulate this Archimedian lever. She will be able to carry the other five with her. Europe is the way for France to become again what she stopped being after Waterloo : the first in the world”[12].

 Of course this does not mean that de Gaulle wanted to replicate Napoleon’s conquests and reconstitute his empire. He is, rather, part of the French tradition before which preceded and outlasted him, consisting in trying to be the arbiter and universal intermediary and representative of Europe. According to the British historian, this was already the case for Louis the 14th : his aim was neither the conquest of the continent nor direct and limited territorial or economic gains for France but being recognized as the leader among European monarchs, and the sole arbiter of European arrangements”[13].

 De Gaulle’s successor, Georges Pompidou, certainly had less grandiose ambitions. Nevertheless, he quoted in an official speech on the centenary of the French political science school, in 1972, a text by the royalist and nationalist leaders Charles Maurras who was predicting in 1910 a world dominated by empires but claimed that this turmoil and this competition” would precisely offer the favourable ground and the right domain where France could manoeuvre easily and frankly, just by the fact that its size and its structure would quite happily bring her at an equal distance between the giant empires and the multiple small nations anxious to keep their independence. The circumstances are favourable to the interposition of a state of middle dimensions, endowed with a robust and firm constitution like ours. We would be the most united state, as well as the most autonomous, in Europe. Any abuse of imperial or colonial policy would be forbidden by this favourable constitution which would open the way to the most beautiful, most actively, most fruitful of influence policies, for our king, being the absolute master of his army, his navy and his diplomacy, would enjoy the independence necessary to watch for the inevitable excesses of the vainglorious policy which the Germans, Russians, British and Americans can no longer avoid”[14].

 This manoeuvereing led de Gaulle after the rejection of his “directoire” proposal by all the allies, to a number of initiatives directed at first at other West European countries, in particular the Federal Republic of Germany, then at Russia and Eastern Europe.

 This is the beginning of what J.W. Friend has called “cooperation and attempted French hegemony”. During the Berlin crisis, de Gaulle and Adenauer are on the same line, of resistance to Soviet pressure and to the temptations of Macmillan and Eisenhower, in the direction of a softer line. This was to continue, under Kennedy, with de Gaulle appearing as the most stalwart ally of the Federal Republic. At the same time, Adenauer is unenthusiastic about de Gaulle’s progressive detachment from NATO and attacks against American hegemony. De Gaulle’s attempt to organize a European institutionalized political and military cooperation (the Fouchet Plan) was accepted by Adenauer personally but failed because all the European states, including Germany, refused what appeared as a choice for a French-led European security system as opposed to a U.S.-led Atlantic one.

 De Gaulle, then, concentrated on the bilateral Franco-German treaty. As his foreign minister Couve de Murville put it, he “decided to begin with two countries what so much discussion had not made it possible to do with six”[15]. This was the beginning of the era combining “Franco-German cooperation and attempted French hegemony”.

 Adenauer shared the notion that Europe should be based above all on the French-German leadership, unlike most other German and European statesmen, he was not enthusiastic about British entry. He told Willy Brandt : “Look, what is Europe ? First and foremost, France and us. And things are going well. If the British make a third, there is no certainty that they’ll continue to do so”[16].

 On the other hand, he knew that the Franco-German joint hegemony was not an equal one. He resented not having been told about the “Directoire” proposal. He accepted that France would not share her newly acquired nuclear deterrent, and would oppose German accession to the nuclear club, but he resented French prime minister Michel Debré stating that France had no other chance then dominating or being dominated and that countries without nuclear weapons would be satellites[17].

 The German parliament and Adenauer’s successors in government, gave a lesser priority to agreement with France and a greater one to agreement with the United States and to Germany’s specific interests, in particular economic, they added to the text of the Franco-German Treaty a preamble which reaffirmed the priority of the Atlantic dimension. De Gaulle, profoundly disappointed, declared that the treaty had had just a brief morning of life, and turned his imagination and his energy in another direction, that of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

 His “vast project”, then, was “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals”. He became more and more hostile to European integration in the classical proto-federalist sense (hence the policy of the “empty stool” in Brussels over agricultural policy), his increasing detachment from NATO, more and more hostility to Britain’s entry into the Common Market and increasingly vocal critique of American policies.

 But Germany and Europe were still at the center of his preoccupations. The central idea of his plan seems to have been to encourage, through French emancipation from NATO, a parallel emancipation of Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union, who would relinquish direct control over its satellites and turn its attention to the Chinese threat, while remaining, along with France, one of the two pillows of European Security. France, while quantitatively inferior, would profit from her superior skill and freedom of action, while the United States was burdened with Vietnam, Germany by its division, Russia by its Asian problems. The other European states would gain a greater independence from the superpowers, and Germany would gain its reunification, negotiated in the framework of the Franco-Russian dialogue and accompanied by a reaffirmation of its territorial limits and of its non-nuclear status.

 1968 put an end to this plan, with the invasion of Czechoslovakia. De Gaulle declared that, since the leaders of the Prague spring had not sought the help of France, he did not care about their fate. His prime minister, Michel Debré, famously declared that the invasion was just a “road accident on the way to détente”. He was right about détente in general, but wrong about its particular, French-led, version. De Gaulle’s plan would have been realistic only if on one side, Europe had been strong and united, and, on the other, Russia had no longer been communist.

 More immediately, as this writer pointed out back in 1966-67, the day the Russians would want to negotiate the future of Europe, it would be with the powers from which they had something to fear and to which they had something to offer, i.e. the United States and Germany[18]. This is what became more and more obvious, after 1968, all the more so since Germany, in that year, declared its independent decision power in economic matters by refusing to devaluate and the beginnings of Ostpolitik showed its potential as an active and flexible diplomatic actor as well. From now on, the period when, in Tony Judt’s formulation, “The EEC was a Franco-German condominium, in which Bonn underwrote the community’s finances and Paris dictated its policies”[19] had lost most of its validity even if both countries had still found it sometimes useful to pretend it was still alive.

Germany’s ambiguous rise

 As we have seen, France has almost always since World War II or at any rate during the 5th Republic, tried to play above its weight. Germany, on the contrary, tended for a long time (and in a way still does) to play below its weight, by fear of frightening everybody, including its allies, Adenauer wanted Europe to save America from itself. He started a tradition, continued by chancellors Brandt and, even more, Schmidt and Kohl, of imposing European choices to a reluctant Bundesbank and a no less reluctant German public when touching its beloved Deutschmark was concerned. The slogan indefinitely repeated, in particular by Foreign Minister Genscher, was Thomas Mann’s dictum “We don’t want a German Europe, but a European Germany”. The purpose of reassuring Europe while actually leading it was explained by Helmut Schmidt to a domestic audience with remarkable frankness. He said Germany must “think and lead” (denken und lenken) while letting France get the glory. In a confidential paper, he argued that “the Federal Republic had become in the eyes of the world de facto economically the second world power of the West. This unwanted and dangerous rise to second world power of the West in the consciousness of other governments – including especially the Soviet leadership would arouse concerns, and could have negative effects, especially for Berlin. There could be a revival of memories not only of Auschwitz and Hitler, but also of Wilhelm II and Bismarck – perhaps as much in the West as in the East”. It was therefore, he went on, “necessary for us, so far on at all possible, to operate not nationally and independently but in the framework of the European Community and the Alliance. The attempt to cover (abdecken) our action multilaterally will only partially succeed because we will necessarily and against our own will become a leadership factor in both systems” (italics in original). Timothy Garton Ash, who quotes this text, comments : “One could write a small essay on the nuances of the word “abdecken” in this sentence. For multilateralism was to “cover” the growth of German power in many senses : to camouflage, but also to control, to manage, but also to permit ; to facilitate, but also to palliate”[20].

 Schmidt’s worries about his allies worries were not unjustified. In a speech in 1978, Giscard d’Estaing (whose friendship and collaboration with him were quite genuine, nevertheless declared ; “It would not be good if one country in Europe could dominate. One can have no confederation in which one member dominates. It would explode. There should be at least two countries in Europe with comparable influence. As I see it today, these are the Federal Republic and France. It would not be good if there were only one. Ultimately, that would be inacceptable”[21].

 The Kohl-Mitterrand relationship was almost as close, but one witnessed several times the same phenomenon of emerging German power, French and British worry and German reassurance. Kohl was a real believer in European integration in Adenauer’s tradition, but he took the initiative for German reunification, supported by the United States, without really informing Mitterrand, who, while accepting the inevitability of the process, was hoping that Gorbachev would slow it down. The euro was the result of his pressure on Kohl for a spectacular reaffirmation of Germany’s commitment to the European Union. On another occasion, with its recognition of Croatia in spite of the reticence of France, Britain and the United States, Germany tried to show leadership in the Balkans, but promptly retreated to a more modest role. In the first years after reunification, it was burdened with its great financial effort towards the “Neue Länder” (i.e. the former G.D.A.) as well as by the desire not to seem imperialistic in lands which it had occupied during World War II.

 It is only in the second half of 1990s, with Gerhard Schröder, that a real emancipation and an active national German policy in various directions made its appearance. Schröder was the first chancellor to openly speak of German national interests. His declaration that Germany would not in any case participate in the Iraq war, even if the U.N. decided in its favour, went farther than to the French stance and contributed to his reelection, due in part to the former East German voters, more anti-American, more pacifist, and less internationalist.

 Beyond the Iraq war, Schröder adopted the slogan of a “German way” and initiated a very active policy in the direction of Russia and China.

 This involves mainly the economic dimension, but also the geopolitical one. A trilateral dialogue between him, French president Chirac and Russian president Putin. His choice in terms of energy policy was a purely national one, in favour of an increased dependence on Russia through joining the North Stream pipeline project, against the interests of Poland and Ukraine and outside the framework of a common European energy policy. Clearly Russia was a privileged strategic partner.

 Chancellor Angela Merkel does not have the same “Russian syndrome” but in practical terms, she has followed so far, more than expected, the policy of her predecessor in relation with Russia and China. The reasons are in great part economic, but they go deeper and are relevant to our subject. German foreign policy like that of all European countries, has become more dominated by domestic considerations, i.e. both by public opinion and by business interests. Both push strongly in favour of the Russian connexion, to the point that some Russian have coined the term : “Gerussia”[22].

 Hence it has become less multilateral and, in particular, less euro- atlantic. More important, it has become not more nationalist in any aggressive or imperialist sense, nor more isolationist, since it depends primarily on foreign trade, but more self-centred and selfish, in other words, more normal.

We mentioned before the attachment, and now the nostalgia, of the German public for the Deutschmark a symbol of German prosperity in spite of the benefits it gained from the euro. One can add a certain condescendence or distrust for what the Germans call “the Club Med countries” which they see as less reliable and hard-working than the Northern ones, a feeling reinforced by the Greek crisis. Above all, the passing years have eroded the memory and to guilt feeling linked to the Nazi past, and, on the other hand, reunification and the collapse of the Soviet Union have diminished the German need for its Western allies. Hence the feeling for national identity and interests has increased and, last but not least, the attraction of being Europe’s main financial contributor has spectacularly decreased.

 This feeling is strengthened both by German weaknesses and by German strengths. For several years, it has had to struggle economically with the constraints imposed by Schröder’s economic reforms which involved important cuts in salaries and services, then with the effects of the 2008 crisis. This was no time to make additional sacrifices for Europe. Now it has emerged victorious from the latter, it is confident in its economic system and in its anti-crisis policies as compared to those of its neighbours and of the United States, and the distance between its economic power and that of the other European countries has increased. Now it sees no reason help those who have not followed its virtuous example, even though after much hesitation, and with great costs in domestic popularity, Angela Merkel has finally accepted to contribute to the bail-out of Greece.

 Another, relatively independent factor, is the decision of the Karlsruhe German Constitutional Court, on June 30, 2009, to require change in the German Constitution for any further abandonment of sovereignty in favour of the European Union. Two weeks later, Le Monde gave great prominence to an essay by its former German correspondent entitled : “A Germany at peace with itself buries the European dream”.

 Germany’s renewed strength and self-satisfaction should, again, not be interpreted either as missionary or as imperialistic. One should not forget its basic weaknesses : a deep demographic crisis, a federal structure and a parliamentary situation which makes bold initiatives and speedy reactions very difficult, a dependence upon foreign trade which makes it vulnerable to foreign crises, a pacifist public opinion which rejects foreign military engagements. The two potentially hegemonic powers in Europe, then, are ill-placed and ill-equiped to fulfil this function of leadership. These present leaders exaggerate their basic features : hyper-activist, ambitions and theatral behaviour without a consistent and stable basis in the case of France, caution and quiet self-satisfaction without a sense of a mission in the case of Germany. Meanwhile, the crisis should dictate solidarity and a renewal of the original European project which is difficult to see for the time being. To the question posed for this article : “Who rules Europe ?” one has to answer : “Nobody in particular, but a cacophony between states, domestic opinions, international constraints and weakened institutions”. The only consolation is that “An illusion of shared power is probably better than the certainly of confiscated power”[23].








[1] Raymond Aron, Mémoires, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1983, p. 276.

[2] Ernst Haas, The Uniting of Europe, Stanford University Press, 1958.

[3] Stanley Hoffmann, « Obstinate or Obsolete ? The Fate of the Nation-State in Post-war Western Europe”, Daedalus, 1966, reproduced in The European Sisyphus, Essays on Europe, 1964-1994, p. 71-106.

[4] Jean Quatremer, “Est-ce Bruxelles qui gouverne ?”, in Michel Rocard and Nicole Gnesotto (ed.), Notre Europe ,Paris, Laffont, 2009, p. 66-80.

[5] Alain Lamassoure, “L’Europe peut-elle fonctionner sans leader ?”, Ibidem, p. 224-235.

[6] Michael Stürmer, « Diversity wins out », in « Can Europe recover ? », The American Interest, July-August 2010

[7] Alain Lamassoure, op. cit.,p. 235

[8] William Fox, The Superpowers : The United States, Britain and the Soviet Union (1944).

[9] Winston Churchill, , 19 septembre Speech at the University of Zurich 1946.

[10] Quoted by Timothy Garton-Ash, In  Europe’s Name. Germany and the Divided Continent, Jonathan Case, 1993, p. 87-384.

[11] Quoted by Georges-Henry Soutou, L’alliance incertaine, Paris, Fayard, 1996.

[12] Ibidem, p. 131.

[13] F.H. Hinsley, Power and the Pursuit of Peace, Cambridge University Press, 1963, p. 169-172.

[14] Charles Maurras, Kiel et Tanger (1910), quoted by Georges Pompidou, Speech at the Ecole des Sciences Politiques, 8 décembre 1972.

[15] Quoted by William Friend, The Linchpin : French-German Relations 1950-1990, The Washington Papers, 1991, p. 30.

[16] Willy Brandt, People and Politics, The years 1960-1975, quoted by W. Friend, op. cit., p. 39.

[17] Quoted by Friend, op.cit., p. 38.

[18] Pierre Hassner, « Une France aux mains libres », Preuves, février 1968.

[19] Tony Judt, Postwar Europe.

[20] Timothy Garton-Ash, op. cit., p.87.

[21] Television Interview, oct. 16, 1978, La Documentation Française, 1978.

[22] Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, Gerussia, The New Strategic Partnership between Berlin and Moscou , 24/12/2009.

[23] In Paul Bercheler, « Dreams of a Brussels Administrator », in Mémoires d’Europe, Paris, Gallimard, Folio, 1993.