Friday, 2 December 2011

Sarkozy: French president and German chancellor to save euro

Yesterday, 1 December 2011, president Nicolas Sarkozy promised the French people later retirement, longer working weeks and smaller public deficits. Europe offers more sovereignty through added opportunities to act.

If France and Germany are united, Europe is united. On Monday the two countries are going to make proposals to guarantee the future of Europe. Sarkozy promised to do his utmost to create an area of stability and confidence at the heart of the eurozone.

Europe has to be rebuilt on more solidarity and discipline. More political responsibility means rejecting blind adherence to the rules of competition and free trade.

Europe needs more democracy. The accountable politicians make the decisions. No march towards supranationality. The heads of state or government and intergovernmentalism are the road ahead for European integration.

The eurozone needs more qualified majority voting [in the Council]. Europe has to protect its commercial interests and to rethink Schengen.

Europe has to end social and fiscal dumping among EU member states. Europe needs to protect its industries against global predators. Europe needs to protect the common agricultural policy.

The euro has to be defended. This is the reason for the heads of state or government as the government of the euro area. France has proposed a European Monetary Fund to serve as a bastion against speculation.

Sarkozy is confident that the European Central Bank will act. The euro area countries have to accept stricter budgetary discipline, including scrutiny of budgets, quick and automatic sanctions and a ”golden rule” on balanced budgets. Convergence is the key concept.

France and Germany campaign for a new Treaty.


Comment

Internally the all but confirmed presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy showed some bravery in Toulon by exhorting the voters to work longer and harder and to prepare for public belt-tightening.

More than ever since the Fouchet plan, Sarkozy assumes the Gaullist legacy to marginalise the EU institutions permanently, especially the Commission and the European Parliament.

He casts the president of France and the chancellor of Germany as the saviours of the euro currency, although even these two countries still have to agree on a joint proposal ahead of the European Council 9 December 2011.

The rest of the eurozone countries and particularly the other EU member states are relegated to pawn status.

Sarkozy's ferociously protectionist blasts may go down well in France, but how many among the 17 – now divided into core and non-core countries - or 27 welcome his calls to scrap free trade and the competition rules underpinning the internal market, as well as social and fiscal ”dumping” [later remembered and added: plus free movement and Schengen]?

Perhaps Sarkozy sees a golden opportunity to create a eurozone core in his own image, when a euro crash seems imminent without extraordinary measures and most of the new EU member states are still outside the eurozone, as are the open market economies Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom.



Ralf Grahn