Jean-Marie Colombani: The truth is we both need each other in this new Europe    

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The Independent Online

France needs Britain. We want a European defence policy as the basis for European foreign policy and there can be no common defence policy without Britain. The Franco-German axis, one of the driving forces behind European construction, is less effective in an enlarged Europe. France needs Britain because she has not proved that her policies can influence the Bush administration or appeal to the majority of European governments. France needs Britain because a dose of the Third Way, the best of Blairism, might do some good for France's social democracy, inreform of the state, research funding, and a long-term reappraisal of the social security system.

France needs Britain. We want a European defence policy as the basis for European foreign policy and there can be no common defence policy without Britain. The Franco-German axis, one of the driving forces behind European construction, is less effective in an enlarged Europe. France needs Britain because she has not proved that her policies can influence the Bush administration or appeal to the majority of European governments. France needs Britain because a dose of the Third Way, the best of Blairism, might do some good for France's social democracy, inreform of the state, research funding, and a long-term reappraisal of the social security system.

France needs Britain because our quasi-monarchical institutions lack the spirit of freedom and transparency that gives life to those of your monarchy. A country whose labour market offers tens of thousands of jobs to young Frenchmen must know something that we don't. From football to the BBC, Covent Garden to Liz Hurley's legs, from architecture to a certain lightness of being, you could go on forever listing reasons why France needs to be on good terms with Britain.

In turn, Britain needs France. This is because credibility within Europe depends on her: despite all the efforts of Tony Blair, a sincere European, London has trouble establishing its European credentials outside the eurozone. Britain needs France because her admirable ambition to see a "global diplomacy" can only be realised by co-operating with Paris, whether it is over the response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to Africa, to cite just two examples. Britain needs France because, if our integration policies pull in opposite directions, each will struggle to deal with the influx of immigration.

In spite of our difficulties reforming the state, we know things about public services that you don't and we can do things that you no longer can, from the health service to public transport, not forgetting cutting-edge technologies that the state can help develop. Britain needs France because the government has been unable to demonstrate that the principles it shares with Washington have enabled it to exercise the slightest influence over the US.

And not to mention second homes in Normandy and the Périgord, Thierry Henry and French techno DJs - there are many good reasons to renew the Entente Cordiale. Vous avez besoin de nous.

Jean-Marie Colombani, editor-in-chief of 'Le Monde'

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