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Building a European Identity

Building a European Identity: France, the United States, and the Oil Shock, 1973-74

Aurélie Élisa Gfeller
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Building a European Identity
    Book Description:

    The Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the first oil price shock, and France's transition from Gaullist to centrist rule in 1974 coincided with the United States' attempt to redefine transatlantic relations. As the author argues, this was an important moment in which the French political elite responded with an unprecedented effort to construct an internationally influential and internally cohesive European entity. Based on extensive multi-archival research, this study combines analysis of French policy making with an inquiry into the evolution of political language, highlighting the significance of the new concept of a political European identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-227-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    “This presidency [of the European Union] has taught me much over the past six months,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the European Parliament in 2008. “When you have the chance to learn about, and decide on, issues from twenty-seven member states,” Sarkozy went on to say, “you understand that Europe is probably the most beautiful idea that was ever conceived during the twentieth century, and that we need Europe more than ever.”¹ However, any attempt to build Europe against the will of “nations,” he warned, would be “a historical mistake.”² These statements provide an appropriate introduction to a book on...

  6. Chapter 1 Meeting the American Challenge: France and the Year of Europe
    (pp. 19-57)

    An American initiative provided the original impetus for France’s reassessment of the value of collective European action. The Year of Europe was officially designed to revitalize the Atlantic Alliance in a context of growing transatlantic economic rivalry and rising U.S. protectionism. It was also, and perhaps primarily, intended to adjust the set of economic, political, and security interrelations between Western Europe and the United States. The U.S. goal was to persuade its allies to be more accommodating in economic matters and to assume a greater share of the security load within a U.S.-led Western order. As such, the plan was...

  7. Chapter 2 Constructing a European Identity
    (pp. 58-84)

    Kissinger had envisioned a single overarching charter, but the Year of Europe provoked the drafting of three documents: a declaration pertaining to EC-U.S. relations, another to the identity of the EC and its member states, and a third to NATO. The draft EC-U.S. statement instigated bitter rifts between the United States and the EC Nine, especially France. The painstaking negotiation process that took place in the fall of 1973 speaks to the potency of words. These talks may have begun to “look surreal” against the background of the transatlantic strife caused by the Yom Kippur War.¹ The fact that in...

  8. Chapter 3 War in the Middle East: The Europeanization of France’s Arab Policy
    (pp. 85-113)

    Six months after the launch of the Year of Europe, the Yom Kippur War compelled French officials to go further in their reappraisal of EPC. It is my contention that the Europeanization of Arab and Middle East policy under Pompidou’s government was intentional. “Arab policy” is a hazy concept. It can refer either to France’s take on the Middle East conflict or to its relations with Arab states, which are interrelated but not fully overlapping issues. This term, moreover, has both a descriptive and a normative, that is, pro-Arab meaning. I use it here in a value-neutral way to designate...

  9. Chapter 4 Kissinger, Jobert, and the Oil Shock
    (pp. 114-141)

    The Arab use of oil as a political weapon had helped foster a single European voice in Arab and Middle East matters, but at the same time it put intra-EC relations under strain. When war in the Middle East broke out, EC states had failed to make headway with their planned common energy policy. In discriminating among them, the Arab producers made this an even more remote prospect. The embargo against the Netherlands and the supply cuts encouraged the pursuit of national interest. As a result, each EC state took the bilateral route to try and secure its oil supplies...

  10. Chapter 5 From a European Common Voice toward Atlanticism?
    (pp. 142-170)

    The Washington Conference had demonstrated that the French concept of an independent European entity—French-led—was losing ground among Western European policy-makers. For a while, however, it looked as though the French government had only suffered a temporary setback. The Franco-EC split merely meant postponing the next EPC ministerial meeting. The EC Nine’s foreign ministers endorsed the Euro-Arab dialogue at their meeting on 4 March, triggering another round of confrontation with the United States. The Nixon administration had made it abundantly clear that it disapproved of the plan. The U.S. president and secretary of state retaliated by embarking on a...

  11. Chapter 6 Building a Political Europe in a Changed International Context: Giscard and the Twin Summits of Paris and Martinique
    (pp. 171-194)

    Seven months after his election, Giscard hosted a Franco-American summit on the French island of Martinique. This summit marked a significant improvement in bilateral relations. Two main factors explain the rapprochement. First, senior U.S. officials changed their tone after Nixon’s August resignation over Watergate. This unprecedented event in U.S. history undermined the confidence of U.S. officials, prompting them to think that the U.S. government had lost some of its authority. The new Ford administration assumed a less confrontational stance in international affairs, being more sympathetic to European concerns and less inclined to unilateralism.¹ Second, Giscard encouraged better relations with the...

  12. Conclusions
    (pp. 195-205)

    Ambivalence has been the hallmark of France’s European policy. Since the early days of European integration, French governing elites have been loath to surrender parcels of sovereignty. Nonetheless, successive governments have accepted increasingly greater encroachments on state sovereignty in order to reap the political and economic benefits from closer union. This ambivalence has been particularly strong in foreign policy. As the oldest and historically most powerful founding member of the European Economic Community, France was keen to retain its many worldwide ties accumulated over centuries. The projection of French power was an important component of not only Gaullism, but also,...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 206-225)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 226-232)