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Perspectives on the French EU Council Presidency, July-December 2008 (FPEU08): Telling Tales?

Helen Drake

From 1 July to 31 December 2008 France held the EU Council Presidency (FPEU08), the twelfth occasion that it had done so, and the second time within eight years since the French Council Presidency of July-December 2000 (FPEU00) culminated in a rather fractious Nice summit, and unpopular Nice Treaty. This paper compares FPEU00 and FPEU08 as seen from Washington D.C., London, Berlin and Brussels, as a means of identifying and evaluating change in long-term French strategy towards the EU, and its significance. From Washington D.C., London and Berlin, we can analyse the key factors driving France's relationships with each of its special partners, and the relative importance of those friendships in the European integration process itself. From Brussels we will look for evidence of a shift away from the 'arrogance' of French diplomacy that came to characterise FPEU00, and we will look to Paris, finally, for explanatory perspectives on our findings drawn from evolutions in French politics, society and the State themselves.

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