“Will Greece leave the European Union?” That’s the kind of headline one can catch daily on every national channel of French television. The French actually seem to look at the situation as outsiders, watching and commenting.
France, despite being one of the co-founders of the EU, is nowadays more often compared to Greece than to Germany, mostly because of its consequent debt (over 2000 billion euros) and lack of competitiveness.
Therefore, its position over the Greek debt’s renegotiations becomes more understandable: as a country which economy is considered weak compared to the Union’s strongest economies, France has less lever than Germany in the EU discussions over the Hellenistic crisis.
However, the French eurosceptic parties, such as the Front National, are impatiently waiting for Greece to leave the Union. Indeed, it would give them much more electoral power (with arguments like “See? We must leave the Union willingly now, before being forced to quit it by the other members because of our debt!”).
But can Greece still be a member of the EU?
In a French perspective, yes. Indeed, Greece only needs financial support to regain the path of growth. The ECB and the IMF showed the world they believed so: they managed to make Greece keep its austerity program (it wasn’t at all taken for granted a few weeks ago!), while expanding its debt payment deadline by four months, and granting the Hellenic government another wave of loans.
Plus, Greece is slowly returning on the path of growth through tourism: it is quite a good sign for the country’s future within the EU.
Finally, let’s remind ourselves one of the key principles of the EU: it is a union based on solidarity between its members. Isn’t it then a good occasion for the EU to show that, despite one of its member states encounters huge difficulties, it will do anything it can to keep this state within the Union? And wouldn’t it send a negative image to the world to throw out a state as soon as a growth difficulty appears?
To conclude, France (along with a lot of other European countries) holds a consequent part of the Greek debt. Therefore, not only can Greece still be a member of the EU but, in order to avoid another European crisis, Greece must continue to be a member of the EU.
– by Marin E.