France was vehemently opposed when the United Kingdom wanted to get into the European Union. French politicians said that the U.K. was nothing but the U.S.'s Trojan horse. In a way, France was right. The U.K. has always been an obstacle to EU integration steps in the EU.
To admit that France was right back then is not enough to solve the EU's current crisis. France was once the player that made all the decisions in the EU, but those days are over. The French-German duo was also of crucial importance for EU integration. France has always dreamed about a powerful EU to challenge the U.S.'s clout on the world scene.
Today, Germany definitely has more influence in the EU. Germany played a crucial role in the adoption of the euro, in the construction of the European Central Bank and the Schengen zone. France has always supported these ideas and helped Germany implement them, while the U.K. has never joined in.
When the Eurozone faced its worst crisis, Germany did everything it could to save the common currency. Germany insisted on bringing Eastern European countries into the EU, making Russia quite angry because of it. Germany was also the one that rejected the idea that Turkey could one day join the EU as a full member.
France followed this anti-Turkey policy without question, and it supported the Kurdish political movement and was on the forefront of recognizing the Armenian genocide. France has always said it wants to have good relations with Turkey, yet it has also said that good relations do not mean France will support Turkey's membership bid. France did not do what it did for Greece when the latter was in the membership process. As a matter of fact, Greece has never shown any extra gratitude toward France, and Paris has never had extra influence on Greece.
The U.K. has played a critical role in the EU by maintaining a balance between Germany and France. That is the reason why London has always refused the idea of deepening European integration. The U.K. said that unless the EU is a real global power, unless it has a real common policy, unless it has its own defense capabilities, it would just become the play garden of the economically most powerful European country. France always believed that the U.K. was saying all this because deep down it is against the European integration project.
Now, the U.K. has decided to leave the EU. France is all alone from now on with regard to Germany. The leaders of the six founding member countries of the EU might take photos together, but that does not change the fact that nobody knows what to do next.
Germany will of course be impacted by the Brexit decision, but only in the short term. Germany must be quite happy with this decision, as Berlin will now feel that there are no obstacles from now on to its ambitions. Now Berlin can develop relations with Russia freely, act more comfortably in the Middle East and feel more independent from the U.S. Germany will be happy if other countries leave as well. That is why German politicians keep saying that the U.K. should leave as soon as possible.
In the meantime, France has no energy to think about the EU's future, as it is busy with the threat of terrorism and the rise of the nationalist and racist currents lead by Marine Le Pen. One wonders why France does not support Turkey's bid to join the EU now. Germany is actually dragging France everywhere it wants, and France is still against Turkey's accession. It is sad when you think of the wasted potential and the traditional relationship between France and Turkey. This is indeed a strategic decision time for France, which has to think very carefully.