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Why France and the European Union Still Matter for the United States

  • Eric Lebédel

Is Europe "elderly and haggard", and could France become "the crucible of  Europe" (Jan. 10, 2015 NYTimes op-ed)?

On the one hand, Europe is warned by the US about an Asian "pivot", and is perceived here as less relevant and effective. Significantly, certainly as a wake up call, Pope Francis recently compared Europe to  a "grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant, increasingly a bystander in a world that has apparently become less and less Eurocentric”. France had been previously presented here as an eminent representative of an "Old Europe".

On the other hand,  the US has been constantly, during the last decade, advocating for a stronger Europe  and stressing a special French role in this endeavour. A few days ago, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama publicly stated that "France was the US oldest Ally". 

At a time when we have to face common challenges in the Middle East and in Africa, to adapt to new emerged actors and a more assertive Russia, to deal with direct threats including in the field of proliferation and the cyber space, to define a multipolar world and organize our economic relation (TTIP), what can be the EU contribution? What can also be a special intellectual and diplomatic French input to this global realignment?

Co-sponsored by The Europe Center, the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the France-Stanford Center.



Eric Lebédel is a French diplomat, former ambassador to the OSCE and to Finland, with a deep experience in Transatlantic relationship (twice as Minister's advisor;  in the French embassy in Washington DC) and in European affairs. He is also involved in crisis management (PMs office), international security (embassy in Moscow, consul general in Istanbul) and multilateral diplomacy ( NATO's Director for crisis management, OSCE). Presently working on Strategic Partnerships for the French MFA and interested in e.diplomacy, he also regularly lectures  at Sciences-po and ENA (Ecole Nationale d'Administration) on crisis management and Europe.