France has been a major player in world and European politics for centuries. However, in recent years, the country has made moves to re-establish itself as one of the most significant powers in both Europe and around the globe.
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As France continues to assert its soft power around the continent and the world at large, this article looks at how the part the country plays in European politics. It examines how the country operates within the European Union and how it contributes to the workings of Europe as a whole.
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What Role Does France Play in the EU?
France is one of the founding members of the European Union (EU). It has been a member of the alliance since helping to form its precursor organization, the European Coal and Steel Community, in 1951.
French is one of the official languages of the Union and the country sits at the forefront of many European affairs. As one of the nations in the organization with the strongest militaries and a substantial economy (France has the world’s 7th highest GDP and the 2nd highest in Europe after Germany), it has a major say in the direction of the 27 country body.
This has only increased under the rule of the incumbent French president: Emmanual Macron. Macron’s presidency has been marked by his efforts to increase the profile of France in both Europe and the world as a major player in decision-making.
In recent years, France has been playing a key part in important developments across Europe and internationally. It has led the way in promoting the issue of climate change (most notably via the 2016 Paris Agreement) and plays a decisive role in how the European Union interacts with other nations around the world in terms of trade and diplomacy.
The country is also playing a significant role in the development of the new, secure European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). An ETIAS application will need to be completed by third-country tourists (such as Americans, Canadians, and Australians) before visiting the country from 2022 onwards.
What European Organizations is France a Member of?
In terms of its main responsibilities in the EU, France has 74 representatives within the European Parliament, sits on the Council of the EU, and has a commissioner within the European Commission.
In addition to these important organs of the 27 country organization, the country also contributes to European affairs by fielding representatives to the following administrative bodies:
- The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC): France has a number of representatives on the EESC representing the interests French of workers and employer organizations in Europe.
- European Committee of the Regions (CoR): France sends a number of diplomats to work on CoR: Europe’s international and cross-regional EU lawmaking advisory body, which defends the interests of local lawmakers and administrators.
How Much Money Does France Contribute to the European Union?
France contributes around €20 billion to the overall EU budget. From that investment, it gets around €14 billion back thanks to EU funding. As a country with one of the strongest economies in Europe, it is one of the biggest contributors to the European Union as a whole.
What Other Significant Organizations is France a Part of?
France is also a member of many vital global bodies, in addition to its membership of the European Union. The country holds a permanent seat on the UN security council (UNSC) and is a member of NATO, OECD, and the WTO.
Many of these organizations were joint-founded by France, meaning that the nation has played a major role in the shaping of the current world order. Its membership of these bodies also gives it an important figurehead role in Europe too.
France’s Position in Europe Over History
France has a long and illustrious history in the sphere of European politics and history. It was once the center of the Carolingian Empire and later held great sway in its own right over the affairs of Western Europe, taking part in many of the major conflicts at the time.
Over the centuries France gained a large Empire in the Americas and in Africa. During the early 19th Century it almost came to dominate Europe under the leadership of Napolean Bonaparte.
However, a lot has changed since the time of Napolean. France is very much a post-colonial state and since the start of the Fifth Republic in 1958 has focused more on European integration and leadership through soft power.
Thanks to its rich history and commitment to the arts and architecture, France is the country most visited by tourists internationally. Paris, its capital city, is also considered to be one of the most important cities in Europe and the world, with numerous EU and global treaties being signed and negotiated within its confines.
There can be no doubt that France is one of the most important countries in Europe and the EU. Thanks to its political and financial clout it is likely to play a major part in the direction of the continent in the coming years and decades.