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Europe Is at the Core of France’s Foreign Policy Global memo, Council of Councils, April, 2017

It remains difficult to predict who will be the eventual winner of France’s upcoming presidential elections, with the first round to take place April 23 and a runoff between the top two candidates set for May 7.



Polls indicate that any of the four primary presidential candidates could emerge victorious: the traditional right’s François Fillon, the new centrist Emmanuel Macron, the far right’s Marine Le Pen, and the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Importantly, the latter two support policies far outside the traditional French and European consensus, which French foreign policy has been based on for decades. Their extreme positions may lead to the end of French membership in both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and consequently unravel the postwar effort to bind the European continent. Twenty-six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the demise of this European project would be a superb victory for the Kremlin. Incidentally, on March 24, President Vladimir Putin officially welcomed Marine Le Pen to Moscow.

The Fifth Republic, established by General Charles de Gaulle in 1958, created an institutional framework that gives the French president a pivotal role in developing and conducting foreign policy.

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The Council of Councils is a CFR initiative connecting leading foreign policy institutes from around the world in a common conversation on issues of global governance and multilateral cooperation. The Council of Councils draws on the best thinking from around the world to find common ground on shared threats, build support for innovative ideas, and introduce remedies into the public debate and policymaking processes of member countries.

The membership of the Council of Councils includes leading institutions from twenty-five countries, roughly tracking the composition of the Group of Twenty (G20). The network facilitates candid, not-for-attribution dialogue and consensus building among influential opinion leaders from established and emerging nations. A list of member organizations is available on the Council of Councils roster page.

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