Friday, June 10, 2005

The Wonders of France

There is a somewhat bizarre element to news coming out of the Fifth Republic these days.

The referendum they had was about the Constitutional Treaty for the European Union. But looking at what's been happening since the resounding Non in it you begin to wonder.

On the issue that was lost, the message from Paris is that everything must continue. Ratification should proceed in other countries as if France and its referendum didn't existed.

But on issues of domestic affairs, there is sudden change everywhere. President Chirac said the referendum wasn't about the government, and then demonstrated that it really was by changing it.

Now, Prime Minister de Villepin has presented his policies to the National Assembly in Paris. It wasn't much - but he is still saying that this will give the French economy a new start within 100 days.

But his words are remarkable when he says that "the French people know and say with force that globalization is not an ideal, it cannot be our destiny." It's words in the same tradition as when the President distanced himself from the alleged "ultraliberalism" of the Anglo-Sachson countries.

But the way of the future is the way of globalization. Also the way of the future for France.

Europe has a choice. We can build borders and barriers towards the rest of the world and present what's out there as a threat. Or we can create an open Europe that works for an open world and sees all of the possibilities that this brings.

To choose the policies of the wall is to choose a destiny of long-term decline. To choose the policies of the web is to create the possibilities for being part of a world that moves towards better possibilities for everyone.

As long as leading politicians of Europe sees globalization as a threat we are heading for trouble. The battle for the idea of globalization is also a battle for the future of Europe.

Prime Minister de Villepin is on the losing side of history. I hope France will not be there as well. It has much to contribute.