The French begin their own display of cognitive dissonance


The French presidential campaign is an example of a quintessentially European form of cognitive dissonance. All the major candidates have made commitments on their Europe policies – to renegotiate this, or abandon that – which may appeal to elements of their target market, but which will not go down well with the Chablis at the first EU summit after their election.


Should one simply classify these declarations as flights of fancy, articulated in the heat of battle, and pay little heed? Perhaps, but one cannot exclude the possibility that at election time politicians, freed from the constraints of office, may be saying what they really think or, indeed, what they think the people really think. And it just may be that they will feel the need at least to attempt to deliver on their promises.


The election takes place at a difficult moment for the European project. This ought to benefit Marine Le Pen and the National Front, who want a return to the franc. Whether it would be a franc fort or a franc faible is not spelt out. But though the travails of the eurozone have given her a good song to sing, there are not yet enough voters prepared to join in the chorus.

本次大選正值歐洲一體化進程面臨困難之際。這一點應該會讓主張重新啟用法郎的馬琳•勒龐(Marine Le Pen)和她的國民陣線(National Front)受益。但她並沒有闡述會採取強勢法郎還是弱勢法郎的政策。不過儘管歐元區當下的艱難處境讓勒龐可以大做文章,但並沒有足夠多的選民接受她的觀點。

More significant, perhaps, is the rhetoric adopted by Jean-Luc Melenchon of the Left Front. He has been the big winner of the campaign so far, threatening to push Ms Le Pen into fourth place in the first round. If he does, there will be a price to pay by François Hollande, who remains the favourite to triumph in the second, for his endorsement. Mr Melenchon is not a deep thinker on European policy, but he has firm views on the European Central Bank, which he would like to see under political control. Mr Hollande is unlikely to be pushed so far, but he favours giving the ECB a dual mandate like that of the Federal Reserve, with priority given also to full employment – not self-evidently an absurd proposition. This would be part of the intergovernmental treaty renegotiation, to which he is firmly committed.

更重要的或許是左翼陣線(Left Front)候選人讓-呂克•梅朗雄(Jean-Luc Mélenchon)的言論。到目前為止他都是競選中的大贏家,大有將勒龐在第一輪投票中的得票率壓到第四位的勢頭。如果梅朗雄的確能超越勒龐,那麼目前仍然最有望在第二輪投票中勝出的弗朗索瓦•奧朗德(François Hollande)要想博得梅朗雄的支持,就需要付出一定的代價。梅朗雄對歐洲政策並沒有深入的思考,但他對歐洲央行(ECB)卻有堅定的觀點,他希望讓歐洲央行受到政治控制。奧朗德的立場被推到這麼遠的可能性不大,不過他主張對歐洲央行賦予像美聯儲(Fed)一樣的雙重使命,而且政策重心也應側重充分就業,這個主張乍看上去並不荒唐。並且這一主張會成為歐洲各國政府對新財政協議重新展開談判的一部分,奧朗德會堅定推動這一談判。

He has attracted much criticism for his hostile stance on the treaty, which many think he will quietly abandon if elected. I wonder whether they are right to dismiss the renegotiation idea as mere posturing. By the second round of the French election the treaty will have been signed but not ratified, and it is by no means clear that the eurozone will survive intact with only fiscal austerity and a modest increase in support funds.


Mr Hollande has openly questioned the continued viability of the Franco-German motor, now conveniently dubbed 「Merkozy」. He wonders aloud whether it has recently been influenced by France at all. In saying so he reflects a view widely held in the French administration, and not just in the Socialist party. Many in Paris are deeply sceptical about the terms of the treaty. They fear distancing themselves from the Germans, but they fear the consequences of following their hard economic line even more.

奧朗德對於法德兩國對新財政協議的聯合推動——法德聯手已被戲稱為「默科齊」(Merkozy)——公開提出過質疑。奧朗德還曾公開質問法國最近在其中到底有沒有產生過影響。他的這番話不僅反映了社會黨(Socialist Party)的態度,也反映了法國政府內部廣泛認同的態度。在巴黎,許多人對協議的條款都抱有深深的懷疑。他們擔心疏遠德國,但更擔心繼續對德國強硬的經濟政策亦步亦趨所造成的後果。

Which leaves President Sarkozy. He has said France will cut its contribution to the EU budget, which hints at another rerun of the British rebate debate. More importantly, he has called for a Europe that 「protects」 its citizens. The subtext is clear: part of Europe』s response to the crisis must be to put up the barriers, to both immigration and foreign competition. The French now support measures to exclude foreign firms from public contracts if their home countries do not allow reciprocal access, and he has said that if the Schengen agreement is not revised within a year, France will leave unilaterally.

最後是法國總統尼古拉•薩科齊(Nicolas Sarkozy)。薩科齊已表示,法國將削減對歐盟預算的出資份額,這意味著有關英國返款的爭論將再次上演。更重要的是,薩科齊呼籲建立一個「保護」其公民的歐洲。他的言外之意顯然是:歐洲的危機應對措施應包括加高針對移民和外國競爭的壁壘。法國目前支持採取措施禁止外國企業獲得公共合同,除非這些企業所在國家提供互惠的市場準入。薩科齊還表示,如果不在一年內修改《申根協定》(Schengen Agreement),法國將單方面退出該協定。

This latter commitment may not be as tough as it sounds. There is already a process of review under way, which in fact the French have been leading. But the broader aim of a protected European market is more menacing if the French pursue it with determination, and when they settle on a European policy they are rarely backward in coming forward.


So whoever wins in May there is trouble ahead in Brussels, Berlin and indeed London. The European Commission, with the possible exception of Michel Barnier, will not like the protectionist impulse. The Germans will strongly resist treaty revision, or any attempt to meddle with the ECB』s mandate. And there is nothing whatsoever in the programmes of any of the serious candidates to please the British. Plus ça change, as we say in England.

因此無論誰在5月份贏得大選,布魯塞爾、柏林、甚至倫敦方面都會面臨麻煩。歐盟委員會(European Commission)將不會喜歡這種保護主義衝動——可能米歇爾•巴尼耶(Michel Barnier)除外。德國將強烈抵制修改財政協議或者任何干預歐洲央行職權的企圖。而所有有分量的候選人的計劃,都不會讓英國人高興。正如我們在英國所說的那樣:「換湯不換藥」。

The writer is a professor at Sciences Po in Paris