Words of Europe: What French people expect from Europe
100 Words of Europe: "peace" remains the value and the main reference of French people with regard to the European Union.
For Notre Europe and Libération, the Institut Médiascopie conducted a survey in France this summer, testing 100 words linked to the European Union. The respondents were asked to place the words on two axes, relating to protectiveness and future importance.
Most of the words tested scored positively. The French rate «peace» as their most fundamental value, one intended as hard insurance against perceived threats - both old («fascism», «fundamentalism», «Chernobyl») and new («terrorism», «illegal immigration», «discrimination», «GMOs», «tax havens»). Threats score less than 5 on a scale rising from 0 («this word threatens me») to 10 («this word protects me»).
The study suggests that the French make 6 major demands of of the Union:
- Sustainable development
- Peace and democracy
- A dual identity: national and European
- Freedom of movement
Finally, the study shows that words referring to the past - relating to the foundations of the European project, political personalities, the founding achievements and objectives of European integration - are rated particularly highly. For example, formulations such as «solidarity between member states» and «federal Europe» score very highly, and Jacques Delors remains a reference in terms of protection. Barack Obama is also seen as a protector (7/10), unlike Vladimir Putin (2.7/10), who is perceived as especially threatening. The French president is a source of slightly more concern than reassurance, scoring 4.8/10. Recently reelected at the head of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso is also judged to be more threatening than protective, as is the case with Gordon Brown.
Hence the following question. Do these findings reveal a refusal to see the world as it is, or rather a French desire not to see the European project stray far from its founding values? As Gaëtane Ricard-Nihoul emphasises in her article «An idea with a history», attachment to the past has one virtue - it provides the keys for thinking about the future.