On April 21, 2002, along with many others, he is both in amazed and shocked when the then leader of the Front National, Jean-Marie Le Pen, wins enough votes to go through to the second round of the French presidential elections. Klossa´s reaction is up to set up EuropaNova, a Paris-based NGO that promotes public debate on European affairs.
On May 29, 2005, when French voters reject the draft European constitution, Klossa then decides to become directly involved in politics. As part of the cabinet of Jean-Pierre Jouyet, at that time Secretary of State for European Affairs, he played a part in France’s Presidency of the European Council during the second half of 2007, which led to the EU´s Lisbon treaty.
On all three occasions, Guillaume Klossa´s reaction were admirably European, yet he still feels is frustrated. Few activists of his generation – many of them the children of the student revolutionaries of May 1968 – have progressed to positions of power. Enrico Letta, until recently at the head of the Italian government, is perhaps the most iconic, but he’s also an isolated case. Some became philosophers, like Cynthia Fleury, or bankers like Matthieu Pigasse. Others, like Klossa, remain committed activists even if they have to endure a sense of political impotence.
Klossa believes that his generation never took the lead in politics because of the soixante-huitards´ monopolisation of power. Without naming anyone on either the Right or the Left, he conveys the message that his “pro-European” approach to the political debate in France has not served him well. His time in Jouyet’s private office at the Quai d´Orsay in Paris gave him the chance to advance left-wing ideas in what was a right-wing government, but the “centrist compromises” that are so common in Brussels are not nearly as well suited to the French political system.
Klossa has since flourished in Brussels. Not being an EU official, he has easy access to Commissioners and French ministers alike, as well as to civil society platforms where he can make his voice heard. Today, as head of the European Broadcasting Union, he’s active in European public television, and hopefully this will give him new ideas for reviving public broadcasting in Europe, long seen as a ‘wasteland’. His book is informed and well-written, and should tempt the powers that be to give him the opportunities to do so.