Francois Lafond became Executive Director of EuropaNova in October 2013. He had previously been General Secretary and a member of the Managing Board of the French Aspen Institute (2012-13); before that, he was director of the Paris office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (2008-2011). Before returning to Paris, François Lafond was a special advisor to the Italian Minister for Regional Affairs and Local Autonomies (2007-8), head of international relations for the Glocus think tank in Rome. He was also special advisor to the Italian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (2006-8), Deputy Director of Policy Network in London (2003-2006), Deputy Secretary General of the Notre Europe think tank in Paris (1999-2003) chaired by Jacques Delors, and research associate at the European University Institute's Robert Schuman Centre in Florence (1992-9).
François Lafond is a graduate of the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) of Grenoble and has Masters degrees in political science, public law and European studies and is also a former trainee with the European Commission in Brussels. From 2002 to 2009, he was associate professor at the Centre for European Studies at Sciences-Po Paris and also taught at Syracuse University in Florence and at the Enna/Koré Free University in Sicily.
He is currently a member of the scientific committee of the Institute of European Democrats, (Brussels) and of the Glocus think tank in Rome. He is also a regular contributor to Italian daily newspaper Europa.
The difficulty involved in this analysis, if one wants to understand the feelings expressed, lies in juxtaposing a feeling of vulnerability as measured in this study with the specific economic and political environment. The turnaround in the economic situation – for the worse in Poland or for the better in Spain– apparently weighed on sentiment. In Italy, the restoration of the political situation during the Monti government, then the Letta one, accounts for the fact that the Italians regained some optimism.
It is worth noting that the Swedes, who show up in your study as feeling far less exposed and vulnerable than Europeans as a whole, live in a country with strong social cohesion and that belongs neither to the euro area or to NATO.
People often call for “Franco-German” concord, in the belief that the pair is fundamental for the European Union. But if progress is slow, it is also because of the still very significant cultural differences between the French and the Germans. Their attitudes towards social risks and their perception of the future, as measured in this study, are likely to be determining differences.
The study could have included another question that seems important to me in such an anxiety-provoking environment: what solutions could the European Union itself provide in terms of social protection, despite its still very limited legal competences?
Against a background of converging European economies, the study also confirms that the globalisation of the economy has been more or less assimilated. European citizens are now well aware that our welfare states will be less generous in the future, but they have not completely accepted it yet, and this fuels a high degree of pessimism.
Back to top