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a mandate impacted by the war in Ukraine

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France hands over Thursday evening to the Czech Republic after six months at the head of the Council of the EU. According to a Viavoice poll for France 24, while the French are divided on Emmanuel Macron’s results at the end of this mandate and, more generally, on the Union’s ability to face future challenges, a large majority pleads for closer ties between member countries in the context of the war in Ukraine.

Agreement to reduce CO2 emissions, regulation of GAFA, minimum wage… Despite a mandate disturbed by the return of war in Europe, France has not been idle during the six months of the EU presidency with a total of 130 agreements ratified. Hailed for his activism by his partners, Emmanuel Macron symbolically handed over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala on Thursday, June 30, wishing him “good luck”.

During a short ceremony organized at the end of the NATO summit, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna handed a baton in EU colors to her Czech counterpart Jan Lipavsky, saying that Europe was leaving of the “stronger, more sovereign and, I believe, more united” French presidency.

On the other hand, in the French population, the perception of Emmanuel Macron’s record as president of the EU is much more mixed, reveals an exclusive survey by the Viavoice institute for France Médias Monde, France television and Radio France. The French are only 35% to judge this assessment generally positive against 39% who think the opposite.

The second European Vivavoice Barometer for France Télévisions, Radio France and France Médias Monde. © FMM Graphic Studio

“The French presidency was very shaken up by a political agenda of presidential and legislative elections which weakened Emmanuel Macron, and of course by the war in Ukraine which changed the situation”, explains Caroline de Camaret, head of the Europe service of France 24.

The wish for a powerful Europe

Telescoped by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the French presidency quickly found itself on the front line on the diplomatic front. While encouraging unfailing support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and encouraging arms deliveries to kyiv, Emmanuel Macron also pleaded for the maintenance of dialogue with Vladimir Putin, a position of balance sometimes classified among the 27 but approved by 61% of French people, according to the Viavoice survey for France 24.

In this context, the interviewees call for a more powerful Europe and a strengthening of the Union’s military capabilities. Thus, almost three quarters of the French are in favor of the creation of a European army. This is ten points more than during the first edition of this barometer published in December 2021.

a mandate impacted by the war in Ukraine
The second European Vivavoice Barometer for France Télévisions, Radio France and France Médias Monde. © FMM Graphic Studio

“The EU has certainly strengthened production and sovereignty capacities, but we are still far from the construction of a European army even if it is a leitmotif of Emmanuel Macron”, recalls however Caroline de Camaret .

War, inflation, energy prices: the French plunged into uncertainty

If the French guarantee that Europe can play a strategic role and serve as a shield in these troubled times, they judge the European management of the Ukrainian conflict harshly. They are thus more than one in two (57%) to think that the EU is not up to the challenge.

Respondents were also skeptical about the ability of the 27 to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Between soaring inflation in the euro zone, soaring energy prices and a long-lasting war in Ukraine, the French are displaying their pessimism for the future. According to this Viavoice poll, 74% believe that the situation of the European economy will deteriorate.

>> To read: Growth at half mast and unprecedented inflation: France threatened by “stagflation”?

In the coming months, the French are therefore calling on member countries to stick together. They are 62% to consider that the countries of the EU must show more solidarity between them.

a mandate impacted by the war in Ukraine
The second European Vivavoice Barometer for France Télévisions, Radio France and France Médias Monde. © FMM Graphic Studio

“This war confronts the EU with multiple challenges: that of its sovereignty, its independence and its political place in the international conversation. No doubt here a new link is invented between the French and the EU in a context unstable international market and in the face of planetary challenges”, note the pollsters. “It is not less EU but much more EU that the French demand”.

According to this survey, 60% of French people believe that the EU should be an important or even priority subject (13%) for the coming five-year term.

Study carried out online from Thursday 23 to Monday 27 June 2022 with a sample of 2 000 people representative of the French population.


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