France has remained an international leader since the Thirty Years War. It was the first country dedicated to "liberty, equality, and fraternity" during the French Revolution, and today it remains a leader as an influential and powerful member of the European Union and the United Nations. The international plane since the end of the Cold War, however, has turned into a United States hegemony. In order to combat this Unitarianism, France has sought economic and political integration with Europe, forming the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, which developed into the modern European Union. France is adjusting to its role as a member of the European Union, struggling to reconcile its strong identity with increasing globalization.
France is in the transition from a socialist economy to one that relies more on the competitive market. This change can be seen in the French "willingness to put industrial management in private hands - and when necessary, foreign private hands" (Gordon 21).
Due to this relatively rapid transition, there is an economic slowdown and the deficit for 2003 was 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, which is above the European Union's 3 per cent debt limit. The French also had a major economic slump in the 90s, when it "was facing one of its most profound periods of economic depression since the 1930s" (Benoit 125). Nevertheless, currently the viable French economy is the world's fourth largest economic power in terms of its Gross Domestic Product due to its ability to adapt well to the domestic, regional, and international changes. France has a very modern economy similar to the United States in its scope. The new-age economy "built on microprocessors, telecommunications, and bioengineering that fuelled American growth in the 1990s" is beginning to take shape in France as well (Hall 186).