Hollande fiddles while France spurns influence in Europe

By and

A mini-reshuffle has taken place involving President François Hollande's senior advisor on the European Union. First the advisor was shunted to the prime minister's office, then it was confirmed he would remain as the head of state's 'sherpa' in charge of summit meetings in Brussels. As Ludovic Lamant and Mathieu Magnaudeix explain, this rearranging of advisors on the deck of state is symbolic of how, nearly three years after his election, President Hollande has shown himself incapable of presenting a clear, coherent and strong policy on Europe that would enable France to punch its full weight in Brussels. The result, fear some observers, is that France has lost considerable clout in the corridors of European power.

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At the end of 2014 President François Hollande's main advisor on Europe was “found another job” at the prime minister's official residence Matignon. However, it also emerged that this same advisor will remain as the president's official 'sherpa' for European Union summits in Brussels. This slightly ambiguous rearrangement of roles may seem just a passing anecdote from behind the scenes in the corridors of power. But in fact it speaks volumes about the way that Hollande continues to tinker and fiddle with European issues. “Since December there's been considerable wavering,” says one worried advisor. “We’ve lost coherence and intelligibility, the departments no longer understand who's making the decisions and there's been a return to squabbling between the ministries.”