Ideas on Europe

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France 2022: Echoes of 2002

Albrecht Sonntag |

Like many French citizens, I vividly remember the 8 o’clock news on the evening of the 21st of April, 2002. Half an hour before, our son called us from Paris, somewhat disturbed by the exit poll rumours. When television confirmed the accession of Jean-Marie Le Pen to the second tour of the presidential election, we […]

France 2022: Stumbling blocks in collective memory

Albrecht Sonntag |

The first and so far only international football match between France and Algeria took place twenty years ago, on 6 October 2001. The starting point had been the sustained euphoria around the multiethnic character of Les Bleus, the French national team, winners of the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship, and their emblematic leader […]

France 2022: And then there was war.

Albrecht Sonntag |

French election campaigns are usually desperately navel-gazing. Foreign policy issues are all but absent from the debate. And even in ‘ordinary’ times, all mainstream evening news programmes consider international news a toxic audience killer. But the war in Ukraine has swept everything else in the background and changed the campaign dynamic. It has also put […]

France 2022: The credibility gap

Albrecht Sonntag |

There is no doubt that French politics have been ever strongly tilting to the right for months now. It’s not even exaggerated to claim that the political discourse is dominated, if not polluted, by far-right vocabulary and semantics. Want to study first-hand the mechanisms of the Overton window? This is the place. Paradoxically, at the […]

France 2022: Why June is more important than April

Albrecht Sonntag |

In France, the presidential election monopolises all the attention. Of candidates and non-candidates, activists and voters, media and pollsters, domestic and foreign observers. That’s understandable. The playbook is irresistible: rhetorically overblown visions of society collide in a dramaturgy replete with plot twists and cliffhangers, the absence of any post-election compromise allows for a merciless showdown, […]

France 2022: That elusive cohesion

Albrecht Sonntag |

“What unites us better than Les Bleus?” (“Qui nous unit mieux que les Bleus ?”). Good question. TF1, Europe’s largest television channel and long-standing partner of the French national team, used it as teaser during the European football championship last summer. An excellent promotional slogan, underpinned by an emotional video of suffering and celebrating the […]

France 2022: Back on the couch

Albrecht Sonntag |

How fitting: this spring, ARTE, the brainy French-German TV channel, will broadcast a second season of ‘En thérapie’, the French version of ‘In Treatment’ (itself based on the Israeli TV hit “Be Tipul”). 35 new episodes of people on the psychiatrist’s couch, composing what Le Monde called ‘an immobile travel across French society in the […]

75 years ago, a road map of hope for Germany

Albrecht Sonntag |

‘I want no misunderstanding. We will not shirk our duty. We are not withdrawing. We are staying here.’ Unfortunately for many Afghans, this quote by an American secretary of state is 75 years old. It stems from a speech given in Stuttgart, on 6 September 1946, which is hardly remembered, but definitely worth remembering as […]

50 years on, little hope for a new ping pong diplomacy

Albrecht Sonntag |

The most emblematic example of how sport is used as an icebreaker in international relations is no doubt the visit, between 10 and 17 April 1971, of nine American table tennis players to the People’s Republic of China, an event known worldwide as ‘ping pong diplomacy’. A lot has been said and written about this […]

25 years later, the multifaceted legacy of the Bosman ruling

Borja García García, Albrecht Sonntag |

Not many decisions taken by the European Court of Justice make it beyond the nerdish    case law debates relished by our law colleagues at the UACES conference. True, a few directives make the mainstream news headlines, going as far as to impact major votes, just ask Frits Bolkestein. But, certainly, a simple ruling that triggers […]

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