Le déclin de la France ?

Les Français sont notoirement sensibles, pour ne pas dire sur la défensive, quant à l'envergure de la France à l'étranger. L'état français consacre une somme importante à la diffusion de la langue et de la culture françaises, mais les Français sont douloureusement conscients que la position mondiale de leur pays n'est plus ce qu'elle était.

Dans ce contexte, il n'est donc pas surprenant que lors des dernières élections présidentielles, la publication d'un rapport de la Commission Européenne déclarant que le rang économique de la France parmi les pays européens était passé de la 3 e à la 10 e place en l'espace de dix ans ait provoqué une introspection et soulevé des controverses. Le président Jacques Chirac s'est alors mis à accuser son rival, Lionel Jospin, d'avoir provoqué le « déclin français ».

L'OCDE et Eurostat, l'organisme européen chargé de réunir ces données, pensaient avoir mis fin à cet aspect du débat en démontrant que la France, l'Allemagne, l'Italie et la Grande-Bretagne présentaient toutes des niveaux de vie à peu près identiques par habitant. Mais la controverse à une échelle plus vaste n'a pas disparu pour autant. Des rumeurs inquiètes sur le « déclin français » ont fait leur réapparition avec les marches de protestation qui se sont déroulées cette année contre la réforme des retraites, les différends grandissants sur la politique fiscale avec la Commission Européenne et les chamailleries avec l'Amérique sur la guerre en Irak.

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