FRANCE
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The French Republic (France) had a total population of over 67 million people as of April 2017 and is a unitary semi-presidential republic with the capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. The area was annexed in 51 BC by Rome,
which held Gaul until 486, when the Germanic Franks conquered the region and formed the Kingdom of France. France emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, with its victory in the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453) strengthening state-building and political centralisation. During the
Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would be the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

 


France has long been a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts Europe's fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, the most of any country in the world. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, and human development. France remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state.
It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. It is also a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),
Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie..

 
As early as 1946, when
Germany was shunned by other nations, Frank Buchman, Moral Re-Armament (MRA, later Initiative of Change - IoC) founder, invited Germans to attend the first conferences in Caux. He believed that it was not possible to rebuild Europe without Germany. The Germans who came to Caux were the first to be authorised by the Allied Occupation to leave their country. 3,000 Germans and 2,000 French visited Caux between 1946 and 1950, among them parliamentarians, industrialists, trade unionists and journalists. The future German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, who came to Caux in 1948, was later to express his gratitude to MRA for extending a hand of friendship to the German people.
 
   
EU Presidency 2022 | FRANCE SHOULD STOP DELUDING ITSELF | The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen | Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
EU Presidency 2022  
FRANCE OUTLINES PLANS FOR EU PRESIDENCY 2022

Council of Ministers’ meeting – French presidency of the Council of the European Union – Statement

Paris, 4 November 2020

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, made a statement on the French presidency of the Council of the European Union. France will hold the Council of the European Union presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2022. Following the Portuguese and then Slovene presidencies in 2021, France will begin the presidency trio it forms with the Czech Republic and Sweden. For France, a founding member of the European Union, this will be its 13th presidency of the Council but its first since the Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009.

As for every European Union Member State that holds it, this will be a very important responsibility for France:

firstly, an institutional responsibility: vis-à-vis the other Member States, because the presidency is there to promote the Council’s stances and defend its interests, and vis-à-vis the other major players in the life of the European Union, namely the European Parliament and the European Commission, with which the acting presidency is in constant liaison, particularly for its legislative work;  

 
a political responsibility too, because a presidency is tasked with furthering the issues on the agenda and making progress on the European strategic agenda decided by the European Council, which is manifested in particular in the European Commission’s annual work programme.

The French presidency will come at a unique time given the European and international situation, which calls for increasingly resolute and effective action by Europeans: crises in our immediate neighbourhood, a crisis of multilateralism, the climate crisis etc. This new scenario will have to be fully taken into account.

In this context, France intends to grasp fully this essential opportunity to help move Europe forward. Indeed, at a time when the number of global challenges (in the areas of health, the environment, democracy, security etc.) is constantly on the rise, it is essential to continue demonstrating the relevance of [action at] the European level and restore confidence in Europe’s ability to protect society’s choices in the long term and carry weight in the world. An aspiration exists today which we must meet: for a more united, more sovereign Europe; a Europe that asserts itself as a public area of shared cultures, where an identity develops that is rich in diversity but based on common principles and values; a Europe that exploits the full potential of the economic recovery and of the ecological and digital transition.

The French presidency of the Council could therefore be built according to the key words “recovery, power, belonging”.

 
On this basis, the French presidency will organize its activity around two priorities:

firstly, the legislative work which it is hoped will be completed in 2022, in accordance with France’s political objectives, for example regarding digital sector regulation and climate and social ambition;

and secondly, projects launched to build tomorrow’s Europe, through the Conference on the Future of Europe, whose work will be concluded in the first half of 2022. The conference should enable Europeans to be offered a societal project for the coming generation.

The challenge is to identify what model we intend to build and what shared vision we want to develop. We shall have to ask ourselves what it means to be European and tackle issues of identity and culture. Throughout 2021, a national segment of the conference will put citizens at the heart of the proceedings. In this regard, the Ministry for Relations with Parliament and Citizen Participation will have a leading role to play.

To carry out the presidency effectively, it is essential to prepare well for it now and organize it clearly and meticulously. To this end, a secretariat for France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union has been created in Paris, under the Prime Minister’s authority; it will oversee logistical coordination, accredit events organized in France by civil society in the margins of the presidency, and be responsible for communication.

 
The city of Strasbourg, European capital, will be central to events under the French presidency. In particular, it will be the setting for the conference’s most emblematic moments on the future of Europe.

Meanwhile, the work of setting out the French presidency’s programme has begun under the coordination of the General Secretariat for European Affairs, in close liaison with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and other ministries. This work will be done with the Permanent Representation to the European Union, which will chair the Council preparatory bodies and conduct negotiations with the other institutions, especially the European Parliament.

Finally, a cultural committee will soon be set up, under the Minister of Culture and the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs; its remit will be to bring Europe to life throughout France from 2021 onwards, be it through live performances (theatres, festivals, concerts), artistic and literary creativity, broadcast output (partnerships with public service broadcasters) or debates, including on social media and the major platforms./.

 

FRANCE SHOULD STOP DELUDING ITSELF  
That President Hollande or his Finance Minister should welcome the two years grace concede by (Brussels? Europe?) the European Commission to reduce France’s budget deficit to 3% of GNP is perfectly understandable. That they attribute to their skills the merit of changing the orientation of European policy, avoiding foisting austerity on the French, is an unabashed example of arrogance and disinformation. y allowing France – as well as a number of other Member States – to spread their budgetary efforts over time, the Commission has done nothing more than interpret, with the appropriate flexibility, the rules of the Treaties and Directives that it is charged with enforcing. In so doing, it recognises that the continuing crisis renders the blind pursuit of austerity counterproductive, as long as there are no signs of an economic recovery
That being said, the Commission – which has neither the means nor the competence – has in no way changed the rules of the game. Thus, the flexibility is conditioned on the pursuit of structural reforms which hardly increase the room for manoeuvring of the governments concerned. The situation of France appears particularly difficult insofar as it is the only country that has not even started to implement significantly the required measures, while continuing to boast record public expenditures, one of the highest tax regimes and an increasing public indebtedness.
Thus, while the heavy sacrifices imposed on Greeks, Portuguese, Irish, Spaniards, Italians and Cypriots, (or adopted unilaterally by the British and earlier by the Germans), are likely to bear fruit rapidly if and when the economy improves, France will find itself forced to maintain austerity because, even if the problematic 3% threshold is achieved by 2015, deficits should continue to be reduced further, all the more that an economic upturn will impose counter cyclical measures and constraining debt reduction objectives in line with the country’s European obligations.

It is totally illusory to believe that France will be able to impose a coordinated European stimulus package without significant further transfers of sovereignty to “Europe”. Indeed, its avowed objectives aiming at more solidarity (debt mutualisation, joint deposit guarantees, greater ECB interventionism, etc.) will remain unfulfilled if they are not accompanied by a robust institutional framework capable of ensuring collective discipline and enforcing sanctions on any attempt at free riding on the efforts requested from the partners. This implies a credible enforceable roadmap leading to a form of European Federation, armed with an autonomous budget financed by significant “own resources” (European taxes).

As long as the mandate of the Commission is restricted to monitor the compliance of each individual Member State with its Treaty commitments, it will not be in a position to impose a coordinated “European economic policy” which could, for example, weigh on the exchange rate of the Euro; its relevance would, in any case, be at best marginal in light of the weight of intra Eurozone commerce.From an internal French political perspective, the consequences of the above mentioned considerations are serious. The prospect of the continuation and aggravation of the austerity voiced by Marine Le Pen are increasingly likely to pass even if, at the same time, the solutions she offers, including exiting the Euro and repatriating French national sovereignty, ignore the massive readjustment (impoverishment) to which the French population would be submitted. The current developments in Cyprus, where the ability to restore the free movement of capital remains highly problematical, should ring alarm bells before committing a country such as France, which is so highly dependent on access to international markets for goods, services and debt financing, to following a similar course. However, receiving support on her diagnosis and remedies (but not on her ideology) from Mélenchon and his “left of the left” supporters, an anti-European consensus could easily paralyse any French governmental initiative leading the “unthinkable” to become “inevitable”.

This potential paralysis could extend to the European institutions. A protest vote, sanctioning governments in place at the time of the forthcoming European elections (considered – wrongly – as the ideal venue to express frustrations with unemployment, austerity, poverty, corruption etc.) could easily jeopardise the Parliament’s capacity to fulfil its role and continue to be the arena in which the democratic legitimacy of the EU expresses itself.

The insolent behaviour of financial markets, where stock markets establish daily new records, far from announcing better times ahead, is rather a further demonstration of the deep changes in the balance of powers that control world events. It is totally illusory to aim at restoring effective sovereign powers in policy making or control at the level of any one of the EU Members States. Only an European-wide entity, comparable to the United States, China, India, Russia or Brazil, can aspire to manage its own destiny. Condemned by national egoisms to virtual paralysis, it is difficult to predict the spark that will trigger the demise of the uncompleted European construction.  It could happen suddenly, caused from outside such as a widening of the Middle East conflict or a brutal shock to financial or commodity markets or, internally by social unrest or the growing influence of populist and nationalist movements.

In conclusion, the chances of reversing the trend diminish with every passing day. The weakening of France, driven to seeking suitable foreign scapegoats and putting in jeopardy the indispensable Franco-German leadership, constitutes the biggest danger confronting the Union. Correcting this state of affairs starts with the realisation that the future of France is not dissociable from the future of Europe.

Brussels, 8th May 2013

Paul N. Goldschmidt
Director, European Commission (ret.); former Member of the Advisory Board of the Thomas More Institute.

 

Basilica of St. Thérèse of Lisieux  

 
The Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica dedicated to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Located in Lisieux, France, the large basilica can accommodate 4,000 people, and, with more than two million visitors a year, is the second largest pilgrimage site in France, after Lourdes. Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica on 2 June 1980.

Saint Therese of Lisieux was beatified in 1923 and canonised in 1925. It was decided to build a large basilica dedicated to her in the city where she lived and died. The project was launched by the Bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux, Bishop Thomas-Paul-Henri Lemonnier, and received the full support of Pope Pius XI who had placed his pontificate under the sign of Saint Therese. Construction started in 1929 and finished in 1954. The basilica is located on a hill at the edge of the city. It was funded entirely by donations and special contributions from several countries from around the world, based on strong devotions to Saint Therese. The basilica thus contains 18 minor altars offered by different nations to Saint Therese.