What French and Greek Election Results Mean for European Economic Unity

Justin Vaïsse
Justin Vaïsse Former Brookings Expert, Director, Policy Planning Staff - French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

May 8, 2012

Editor’s Note: In an interview with the Diance Rehm Show, Justin Vaisse speaks about the current situation in France and what the election of Francois Hollande as France’s President means for Europe and the world.

Diane Rehm: And turning to you, Justin Vaisse, during his acceptance speech, Francois Hollande promised to behave like a normal president. What does that mean?

Justin Vaisse: Francois Hollande has campaigned on his contrast with Nicolas Sarkozy. He emphasized that where Sarkozy was impulsive, unpredictable, sometimes ostentatious, he would more behave like the sort of standard, traditional definition of the French president which was set by Charles de Gaulle in the ‘60’s and that he would be precisely predictable, thoughtful, less impulsive and that he would be, for that reason, a better partner for his international counterparts.

DR: What is France’s economic status at this point?

JV: France is not in recession as are, I think about now 11 European countries. Growth has been on par with that of Germany in the recent years, but the situation is much more dire in terms of unemployment, which is close to 10 percent, in terms of deficit which has reached 5.2 percent in 2011 and the debt is now nearing 90 percent of GDP. So the situation is not catastrophic, but it is not good either and there is hope that by embodying the new ‘pro-growth’ consensus in Europe, Francois Hollande could precisely give a jolt to that situation.

Listen to the full interview at»