The Franco-German tandem on the same wavelength
Finally, there seems to be a broad convergence between French and German attitudes.
- The preference for international cooperation is overwhelming in both countries: more than nine out of 10 respondents in both countries believe that a cooperative approach at the international level is necessary. The Germans are even more ready than the French to favor cooperation in all cases, even if it could mean undermining immediate national interests. In Germany, the majority of people who refuse international cooperation are AfD supporters. In France, 27% of those who endorse this refusal are supporters of the right-wing party Les Républicains, and 22% are supporters of the extreme right-wing party Rassemblement National.
- A similarity on a somewhat counter-intuitive point can also be observed: 84% of the Germans and 77% of the French respondents consider that foreign policy should be driven by values, such as the respect for human rights, rather than by interests, such as economic ones.
- Regarding which topics should be given priority for international action, the same reactions can be observed in both countries. Indeed, more than the majority of respondents in both Germany and France agree that the environmental crisis should be tackled first. Cybersecurity and especially immigration are considered as secondary priorities.
- Overall, the differences in reaction among respondents from the two countries are more matters of nuance than significant gaps: in Germany, almost half of the respondents consider the EU membership to be an advantage, while only a quarter of the respondents in France share this opinion. In both cases, most of the respondents consider that the advantages and disadvantages are balanced. Finally, a majority of Germans have more trust in the EU while a majority of French people invest their hopes in the United Nations.
The overall picture drawn by this survey in both countries emphasizes the significant support for pragmatic international cooperation and multilateralism, with different frameworks (the UN, the EU, others) depending on the topic. This is particularly true with regards to climate change and the fight against terrorism. The issue of migration is the only one for which the European framework is privileged over the global (UN) framework. Moreover, the respondents’ assessment of the results of international cooperation is still nuanced. This contrasts with the desire of 42% of the French people for greater involvement in the EU (and 36% for greater involvement in the UN). How should this contrast be interpreted?
Maybe we can understand these figures as the expression of a positive bias in favor of international cooperation, but coupled with an expectation of concrete results, all the more so since exclusively national possibilities for action are perceived as limited on issues such as climate change and terrorism. If this conclusion is correct, it legitimizes initiatives such as the Paris Peace Forum, of which Institut Montaigne and Körber-Stiftung are founding members alongside other institutions. Indeed this Forum aims to identify lines of action based on operational projects, supported by states or non-governmental organizations. Through this approach, it aims to promote effective multilateralism, which seems to be an adequate response to the opinions of the French and German people as revealed by this survey.
View full survey (french version)