Lhe diplomatic language of Downing Street barely conceals the extent of the snub suffered by Paris: the decision to postpone the visit to France of King Charles III ” was taken with the agreement of all parties after the French President asked the British government to postpone the visit”.
While France could be proud of having been chosen by the new British head of state for his first official visit abroad, the obligation in which Emmanuel Macron found himself to renounce it at the last minute, Friday March 24, sounds like a humiliation. Instead of inaugurating his mini-European post-Brexit reunion tour by descending the Champs-Elysées in the company of his French counterpart, Charles of England will start it on Thursday March 30 in Berlin with a speech in front of the Bundestag.
The French president, whom the repeated demonstrations throughout the country do not deviate from on the pension reform, had to, in renouncing to welcome the King of England, take into account for the first time in an explicit and resounding way the mobilization of the street. The opponents of the government project, by causing Mr. Macron to disrupt the trip of a foreign leader, have, in fact, given the conflict which agitates France a European dimension.
Not that the cancellation of the French stage of Charles III calls into question the common will, on both sides of the Channel, to display its solidarity in the context of the war in Ukraine and to relaunch cooperation. In the British tradition, royal trips have above all an “emollient” function, preparing the ground for diplomats and politicians. But Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron staged, on March 10, at the Elysée, the ” new start “ Franco-British relations.
The postponement of the royal visit, by projecting the French crisis on the continental scene, highlights the double misunderstanding of which it is the object among our neighbours: how the postponement of the retirement age to 64, an age often clearly lower than that in force in our neighbours, can it turn a country like France upside down? How can the executive of a country which claims to play a leading role in the European Union, can prove to be so incapable of managing an internal political conflict through dialogue? Questions to which it is not useless, far from it, for the French, to seek answers.
France is obviously not the only country in Europe to experience political quarrels and social protests. But he is one of the few where the use of violence appears as a recurring passage to settle them. Admittedly, almost everywhere, the functioning of democracies is questioned, the stability of governments increasingly uncertain, political parties ever more fluid and fragmented. But France, with its president with broad powers, its supposedly omnipotent state, its weakened intermediate bodies and its eruptive tradition, is a phenomenon.
In none of the three other European countries − Germany, Italy, United Kingdom − recently studied by the survey carried out by the OpinionWay institute for Cevipof published in The world, the level of mistrust towards the institutions does not reach that of French opinion. The political and social crisis that is shaking the country requires urgently tackling the multiple causes of this worrying dropout, except to increase the risks of France’s isolation in Europe, or even downgrading.