Links between France and Other Countries

P. 366

France is in Europe, in the Western Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere. In the past, the French colonized many places around the world. All these facts affect France's links with other countries.

At one time, Europe was the centre of the western world. Each country in Europe competed with the others for colonies, trade and wealth. Each was determined to be independent. Now the countries of Europe are faced with the strength of the United States, the Soviet Union, Japan and China. They no longer think that each European country can do everything by itself. They have joined together to do many things.

Numerous European countries have joined together to form the Common Market. Under its rules, most goods can travel across borders without being subjected to import taxes. France can send its agricultural and industrial products to any of the other countries. It also receives products from these countries.

. Why is the Common Market so important?

There is also a European parliament, which was created to promote co-operation among European countries. Twenty-one European countries belong. France has 81 members out of a total of 434. The parliament looks at such matters as foreign affairs, agriculture and finance to make sure that all the countries have common policies in these areas. A European court settles disputes between members. European heads of state meet regularly to discuss things that affect all their countries.

For many years, France was a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a defence organization headed by the United States. Charles de Gaulle took France out of NATO. He wanted his country to be more independent and to have complete say over the forces and weapons used to defend France.

Like other European countries, France wants to stay independent of both the United States and the Soviet Union. The people in Europe remember that World War I and World War II were fought on European soil, and they do not want their countries to be a battlefield for another war. More and more Europeans want to stay neutral, not taking sides with either the United States or the Soviet Union.

Some people think that all of Europe may one day unite into a single large country. Few French people think this way. While they are happy to co-operate in some things with their neighbours, they want France to stay independent. French people want to continue to run their own affairs. France has many contacts with its former colonies, such as Canada and North Africa. Some are departments or territories of France. Others are now independent but keep trade and other links with France want France to stay independent. French people want to continue to run their own affairs.

France has many contacts with its former colonies, such as Canada and North Africa. Some are departments or territories of France. Others are now independent but keep trade and other links with France.