Rolf Englund IntCom internetional
I Malmö levererade Persson, våren 2011, som vanligt utan manus, precisa formuleringar som hade kunnat gå rakt till trycket.
Some French officials are blaming The Economist for Moody's decision to take away the French government's top AAA credit rating.
The way the French see it, Britain and America can't stand the fact that France has taken a different approach to the global market economy - one with more egalite and fraternite, and less worship of the free market gods. They let out their frustration by suggesting that France is the "ticking time bomb at the heart of Europe".
France and the euro
The time-bomb at the heart of Europe
Why France could become the biggest danger to Europe’s single currency
The Economist print Nov 17th 2012
- Den stora risken var att Grekland skulle utlösa en kris i italienska, franska och tyska banker.
Nu finns i praktiken en EU-garanti för de utestående grekiska statsobligationerna.
Anders Borg, TT, SvD papper 22 februari 2012
- To Be, Or Not To
Be A Country - that is the question
François Bayrouin english at wikipedia
Philippe de Villiers is a French rebel with a cause. He breaks a general taboo among respectable politicians in France.
“We’re witnessing the end of the dogma of austerity” as the only tool to fight the euro debt crisis,
When Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle met in 1962 in Reims cathedral for a mass of reconciliation,
The Franco-German axis that has driven EU affairs ever since Schuman and Adenauer in the early 1950s is collapsing before our eyes.
Rehn: The French government has begun structural reforms, but the economic outlook has also simultaneously and unexpectedly worsened. France must now persuade the European Commission and its European partners that it will get its public finances in order in medium-term.
SPIEGEL: What use is it, then, if Europe obliges itself to ever greater budgetary discipline, but in reality is constantly making concessions?
Rehn: I don't make any trade-offs when it comes to the Stability Pact rules. The reformed pact places an emphasis on making public finances sustainable in the medium-term. In the short term, certain divergence can be accepted under the condition that a country is implementing reforms.
Frankrike blir först ut med att bryta mot Bryssels nya tuffa budgetregler
Det var ingen rolig rubrik som mötte Le Figaros läsare i förra veckan. ”Bienvenue au Club Med” stod det på förstasidan, en ordlek som inte bara anspelar på den klassiska researrangörens extravaganta semesterorter, utan snarare på att fransmännen nu sällat sig till Medelhavsländernas klubb av krisekonomier.
Frankrike har enligt artikeln lämnat ”de dygdiga länderna i norr” för att istället ”spendera pengar man inte har”.
Den så kallade finanspakten infördes vid årsskiftet och var tänkt att återupprätta förtroendet för Europas krishantering. Alla EU-länder förutom Storbritannien och Tjeckien lovade dyrt och heligt att sanera sina finanser och att inte ha ett större budgetunderskott än 3 procent av BNP. I Frankrikes fall redan 2013. Annars väntar böter.
Det kommer François Hollande inte att klara.
Should Olli Rehn, the commission’s vice-president, coerce governments in France and other countries into further adjustment
to ensure they meet their 2013 deficit targets?
The case for being tough rests on an argument about credibility. In 2003, France and Germany built a coalition to rebut the commission’s recommendations on deficits and put the stability and growth pact “in abeyance”.
On the other hand, the case for being flexible rests on an economic and on a political argument. Immediate fiscal adjustment in countries that have kept access to capital markets is not what Europe needs.
Monti called the breaches of the Maastricht Treaty limits on deficit ceilings by France and Germany,
soon after the launch of the single currency,
Franco-German Divide Nears Record High
Once the French get into a full-scale crisis, it’s over.
French President François Hollande has called for more budgetary, social and tax integration, leading to a "eurozone government" during a debate with MEPs.
Germany Dismisses Hollande’s Call to Steer Euro’s Rate
Hollande: ”Euroområdet behöver en valutapolitik”
Det sade Frankrikes president Francois Hollande inför Europaparlamentet i Strasbourg på tisdagen, rapporterar Bloomberg News.
– Europa... lämnar euron sårbar för irrationella rörelser i endera riktningen. En valutaunion måste ha en växelkurspolitik eller så utelämnas den i slutändan till en växelkurs som inte är förenlig med det verkliga tillståndet i ekonomin, fortsatte han.
Han sade också att krisen i euroområdet inte är över och att alla läxor inte har lärts från eurokrisen
He said he was not calling for the European Central Bank to set an exchange rate target, but he demanded “an indispensable reform of [the] international monetary system”.
He added: “If not we are insisting on countries making efforts to be competitive which are destroyed by the rising value of the euro.”
The pace of the euro’s rise in recent weeks has alarmed some policy makers and European companies.
Why do countries such as China and the US manipulate their exchange rate?
This week, France and Germany celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elysée treaty, the document that laid the foundation for their close co-operation on building an integrated European Union
Frankrike – eurozonens näst största ekonomi – är det största hotet mot euron.
Han Som Bestämde, evigt förknippad med 1990-talets sanering av statsfinanserna, väcker fortfarande känslor.
I Malmö levererade Persson, våren 2011, som vanligt utan manus, precisa formuleringar som hade kunnat gå rakt till trycket.
Risken för att det går dithän är överhängande, menade Persson, och pekade på Frankrikes kroniska budgetunderskott, svaga konkurrenskraft, skakiga banker och överbelastade pensionssystem.
Det var utomordentligt klarsynt.
Göran Persson var aldrig någon entusiast, men drev under sin tid som statsminister en lojal EU-politik.
Varning för den galliske tuppen
Det är målsättningen om ett ständigt fastare förbund
France and the euro
President François Mitterrand argued for the single currency because he hoped to bolster French influence in an EU that would otherwise fall under the sway of a unified Germany. France has gained from the euro: it is borrowing at record low rates and has avoided the troubles of the Mediterranean. Yet even before May, when François Hollande became the country’s first Socialist president since Mitterrand, France had ceded leadership in the euro crisis to Germany. And now its economy looks increasingly vulnerable as well.
As our special report in this issue explains, France still has many strengths, but its weaknesses have been laid bare by the euro crisis.
For years it has been losing competitiveness to Germany and the trend has accelerated as the Germans have cut costs and pushed through big reforms. Without the option of currency devaluation, France has resorted to public spending and debt.
Even as other EU countries have curbed the reach of the state, it has grown in France to consume almost 57% of GDP, the highest share in the euro zone.
Because of the failure to balance a single budget since 1981, public debt has risen from 22% of GDP then to over 90% now.
S&P downgrades France’s biggest bank
The vicious circle linking the outlook for banks with their economies continued on Thursday night
“The economic risks under which French banks operate have increased in our view, leaving them moderately more exposed to the potential of a more protracted recession in the eurozone,” S&P said in a statement.
Nouriel Roubini, Dr Doom, kommenterar Frankrike som han anser har stora problem.
The French government has been forced to rescue a distressed domestic mortgage lender, Basel III
It said it would seek approval from the European Commission for its bailout of Crédit Immobilier de France, which follows the €90bn joint rescue with the Belgian and Luxembourg governments of the collapsed lender Dexia, which is still under negotiation with Brussels.
Pierre Moscovici, finance minister, said in a statement late on Saturday night that the government had agreed a request from CIF to grant it a guarantee to enable it to “meet all its commitments” after its access to wholesale market funding dried up.
Mr Moscovici added that tough new requirements under the Basel III capital requirements for banks had also played a role in CIF’s inability to stand on its own two feet.
When EU regulators ran stress-tests on European banks in July,
The crisis in the eurozone is the result of France’s persistent pursuit of the “European project,”
An obscure book, L’heure des choix, pour une économie politique
Footnote: Co-author Pierre Moscovici is now….Minister of Finance in the Hollande administration.
Enda chansen att rädda euron är en fullfjädrad politisk union.
The Commission forecasts that France too will miss its target of reducing the deficit to 3pc by next year
Beyond downgrade jitters, or fears of contagion from $710bn of French bank exposure to Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal (IMF data).
A gut feeling in global markets that France is sliding into deep trouble,
French economists say the moment of danger will come later this summer - whoever is elected - as the full force of Europe’s contraction crisis hits France.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s defeat makes him the first incumbent in more than 30 years to fail to win re-election,
First Greece’s Papandreou, then Italy’s Berlusconi, followed by Spain’s Zapatero, and now France’s Nicolas Sarkozy
Lars Calmfors i Hässleholm:
Tidigare än Tysklands Angela Merkel insåg också Sarkozy hur allvarlig eurokrisen var. Han har drivit på för gemensamma lösningar, även om de utformats för att passa franska intressen.
Nicolas Sarkozy är Europavän, men tilltagande och oroande EU-kritik har präglat presidentens tal inför valet på söndag. Hans angrepp på Schengensamarbetet, tirader om minskad invandring och krav på hårdare kontroll av unionens gränser följer ett illavarslande mönster som etablerades i Grenoble sommaren 2010.
Den gången höll presidenten ett riktigt obehagligt tal. Han dömde ut 50 års invandringspolitik, kopplade kriminalitet till den fria rörligheten och gav order om att romer från östra Europa omedelbart skulle slängas ut ur Frankrike. Det var en öppen flört med Nationella frontens väljare på högerkanten, och den har han återupptagit under valrörelsen. Häromdagen vände sig Nicolas Sarkozy direkt till Marine Le Pens sympatisörer och vädjade om deras stöd.
The Greek election, which we now know will happen on 6 May, will revive questions about whether Greece can stick with its new programme - or, indeed, the euro.
The very phrase, President Hollande, could also (whisper it softly) cause investors to wonder whether France - the country with by far the highest government spending as a share of GDP in the eurozone - deserved to be borrowing at less than 3%.Stephanie Flanders, BBC Economics editor, 11 April 2012
While French banks are not the problem that Spanish banks are, they are far larger relative to the size of their home country.
Should France Be Added to the 'PIIGS'?
“France is not self-financing, but instead relies on capital inflows from abroad.
France has not balanced its books since 1974. Public debt stands at 90% of GDP and rising. Public spending, at 56% of GDP — more even than in Sweden.
Sélestat have emerged as a focal point of the French presidential campaign.
- Den stora risken var att Grekland skulle utlösa en kris i italienska, franska och tyska banker.
The extraordinary decision by Angela Merkel to campaign for Sarkozy in the April-May presidential elections
French Trade Gap Record $91 Billion in 2011
France has suffered a trade deficit every year since 2002.
The first round of the presidential election will take place on April 22, followed by a second and decisive round on May 6.
German unemployment has fallen to a post-Reunification low of 5.5 pc
The Carolingian union is all that anybody in French public life can really remember. It worked marvellously for two generations, levering French power on the global stage, and the euro was of course their own creation, intended to tie down a reunited Germany with “silken cords”.
How can they now face the awful truth that this elegant strategy has blown up in their faces, enthroning Germany as undisputed hegemon?
Yet they can hardly ignore the evidence. While German unemployment has fallen to a post-Reunification low of 5.5pc, France’s jobless rate has crept up to a post-EMU high of 9.9pc and is certain to rise further as recession bites again.
While both countries had the same sorts of export surplus in the early 1990s, they have diverged massively since the D-Mark and franc were fixed in perpetuity. Germany has a current account surplus of 5pc of GDP: France has a deficit of 2.7pc, anathema for Colbertistes.
French unemployment at 12-year high
According to ILO-compliant data from the INSEE national statistics office issued on December 1, the unemployment rate in mainland France rose in the third quarter to 9.3 per cent from 9.1 per cent in the previous three months.
Om man har en sedelpress går man inte i konkurs, forts.
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Jean-Claude Piris was one of the most powerful men in Brussels,
Mr Piris’ theory that the EU should develop a “hard core” among a smaller, more integrated group of eurozone countries could soon be put to the test.
Jean-Claude Piris var ofta en som höll i pennan när EU:s grundfördrag skulle revideras.
Jean-Claude Piris en av Bryssels mest svårfångade personligheter. Utåt diskret tillbakadragen som det anstår en hög jurist, inåt en självmedveten maktspelare som hade sina fingrar i alla pajerna de senaste 20 år
Jean-Claude Piris var ofta en som höll i pennan när EU:s grundfördrag skulle revideras. Ibland hörde jag att han i skrivbordslådan hade färdiga utkast till nästa fördrag redan innan förhandlingarna börjat.
Den minnesgode erinrar sig för övrigt att Fredrik Reinfeldts största bestående bedrift som ordförande i EU var att få detta så hett efterlängtade Lissabonfördrag på plats hösten 2009.
När nu Jean-Claude Piris som fri pensionär på distans betraktar tillståndet i EU grips han av förtvivlan, vrede och besvikelse, om än uttryckt i återhållen fackprosa.
Jean-Claude Piris: The Future of Europe (Cambridge University Press).
Här underkänner han Lissabonfördraget som helt otillräckligt och varnar för att EU i sin nuvarande form riskerar att helt gå i baklås.
Skulden lägger han i första hand på det högsta politiska ledarskap, som han tjänat i all år.
Nej till EU-federation
President Sarkozy galopperade in på sin gamla käpphäst: ett nytt mellanstatligt avtal utanför EU.
I Merkels och Sarkozys senaste europlan finns också skatten på finansiella transaktioner.
In the long hours of a bitter Brussels night Europe changed.
A Franco-German plan aimed at solving the euro-debt crisis by a partial loss of sovereignty and deeper fiscal integration
"In order to weaken the president, the Socialists take the risk of resurrecting the old demons of Germanophobia," Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in a statement.
Överallt sprids känslan av att undergången närmar sig.
Samtidigt presenteras ny statistik om arbetslösheten som stiger till nya dystra rekord och tv visar bilder på köer utanför nyöppnade soppkök. Aldrig förr har jag sett så många tiggare på gatorna i Paris.
Annika Ström Melin på Parisbesök
Nicolas Sarkozy gatecrashed Jean-Claude Trichet’s farewell party in Frankfurt
After the official celebration, there was an improvised mini summit with Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Trichet, Mario Draghi, Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso attending.
Before Sarkozy’s surprise visit, Francois Baroin said that France remained convinced that the “banking licence for the EFSF would certainly be the best solution”. After two and half hours, all the participants left without statements.
German government sources expressed surprise at Sarkozy’s decision to go back on a subject they thought they had buried, as it was unacceptable to both Germany and the ECB.
Europe Deeply Divided Ahead of Make-or-Break Summit
Under their plan, banks would be called upon to voluntarily increase their share of the financing of Greek debt. If this does not lead to a debt haircut of at least 50 haircut, the banks would be compelled to participate in the plan.
But it is highly unlikely that the banks will do this voluntarily. The French are particularly resistant to a larger haircut, because a handful of them have lent large sums of money to shaky economies like Greece, Spain and Italy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy fears that downgrading these countries' bonds would lead to the collapse of his banking system.
The head of Deutsche Bank is raging against politicians, Berlin is raging against Paris and the north is raging against the south. The world is expecting decisive results at this weekend's EU summit on emergency measures to shore up the euro, but the Europeans remain split.
The monetary union's 17 finance ministers will meet in Brussels this Friday, their counterparts from the remaining European Union countries will join them on Saturday and, finally, on Sunday the EU heads of state and government will arrive to give their blessing to the bailout package.
The most important meetings were scheduled for the weekend so that the decisions can be taken when financial markets are closed. Everyone is afraid of how the ominous markets will react.
IMF beräknar bankernas behov av friska buffertar till 200 miljarder euro
"The total debt of the three big U.S. banks (Bank of America, JP Morgan and Citigroup) is $5.86 trillion, or 39% of GDP,
Lagarde vs. Lagarde on Stimulus
Christine Lagarde, the tall, silver-haired, impeccably-dressed woman who now heads the International Monetary Fund, bears a strong resemblance to a former French finance minister also named Christine Lagarde. But listening to their positions on fiscal stimulus, you could be forgiven for doubting whether they are in fact the same person.
IMF Chief Lagarde over the weekend bluntly criticized European governments for doing too little to boost economic growth. She even took the strongly Keynesian position that a strategy to improve Europe’s sovereign finances could involve more short-term fiscal stimulus: “It does not necessarily mean drastic upfront belt-tightening—if countries address long-term fiscal risks like rising pension costs or healthcare spending, they will have more space in the short run to support growth and jobs.”Top of page
Cconcern at the approach taken by BNP Paribas and CNP Assurances
Good news and bad for German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
I tisdags framträdde Merkel tillsammans med Frankrikes president Nicolas Sarkozy. Avsikten var att lugna oroliga medborgare. Här ska tas krafttag, bildas en ekonomisk regering för euroområdet. På sikt ska skattepolitiken samordnas och så ska man införa en transaktionsskatt på finansiella affärer, Tobinskatt som det kallades på den tid Attacrörelsen var aktiv.
How to save the euro – kick out Germany
Best of all for France, the French bureaucratic elite would again become unquestioned leaders of the European federal project.
President Sarkozy said:
On Wednesday Mr Sarkozy summoned members of his government back from holiday for an emergency meeting
Today the French government is working overtime to make sure that a Sarkozy loyalist, the leader of his economic team — Finance Minister Christine Lagarde — becomes the next managing director.
Just a few years ago, euro-zone countries were at the forefront of those saying that the International Monetary Fund had lost its relevance and should be downsized. French authorities regarded the I.M.F. as so marginal that President Nicolas Sarkozy was happy to put forward the name of a potential rival, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as a candidate for its managing director, in fall 2007.
Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is the co-author of “13 Bankers.”
The German constitutional court has almost no other choice than to rule that EU law was violated.
If Spain has no strategy, France has had something worse: a bad one.
Sarkozy in Davos
The new French revolution
Some 200 demonstrators blocked France's Marseille-Provence airport for more than three hours
Thursday as strikes and protests continued across the country
CNN 21/10 2010 with nice video
Sarkozy warning as French strikes hit power supply
In the Paris suburb of Nanterre, youths smashed shop windows and threw stones while in Lyon there were skirmishes between rioters and police.
The French government has authorised the use of a special intervention force to deal with protesters blocking fuel depots
French interior minister Brice Hortefeux authorised use of the paramilitary police to break blockades at fuel depots. He said he respected the right to protest, but that did not include the right to block workers or to commit pillage or violence.
The BBC's Christian Fraser said this force was the equivalent of a Swat team whose normal duties include hostage rescue.
Är det rätt av facket att göra upporor?
Defiant France ignores the abyss
The French people still do not seem to realise the potential gravity of their situation. Their government’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 is an extremely mild reform – certainly compared with the cuts in wages, pensions and services that are being forced through in other debt-stricken European countries such as Greece, Spain, Ireland and even Britain. And yet France’s proposed reforms have brought millions of demonstrators on to the streets.
It may need a genuine fiscal crisis finally to persuade the French that, as Margaret Thatcher once put it: “There is no alternative.”
French strikes force petrol stations to shut
Strike action against the government's reform plans is being ramped up, with lorry drivers starting the week by staging a go-slow on motorways around several major cities including Paris, Lille and Lyon.
"The government is in control," Industry Minister Christian Estrosi told French radio on Monday.
Mitterrand forderte Euro als Gegenleistung für die Einheit
Jacques Chirac to stand trial
Mr Chirac faces charges of abuse of public funds while he was mayor of Paris. It is alleged that he paid 21 allies for doing non-existent jobs
France's junior minister for EU affairs has said to the European Commission:
"This is not how you speak to a major power like France, which is the mother of human rights."
"A plane ticket to one's country of origin in the European Union is not a death train, and is not the gas chamber,"
EU Observer 15/9 2010
Following stinging comments on Roma expulsions by EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding. Focusing in on the commissioner's remark on Tuesday that "this is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War," that Ms Reding's "unseemly" remarks in effect compare France to the Nazi regime.
Sarkozy förklarade med ödesmättat tonfall:
Only a closer union can save the eurozone
At some point the markets will realise that large parts of the German and French banking systems are insolvent, and that they are going to stay insolvent.
EU leaders will tomorrow meet in Brussels for a crucial summit.
Merkel, Sarkozy Paper Over Differences Before EU Summit
VD för det franska försäkringsbolaget AXA, Henri de Castries, sa på tisdagen att det inte finns några skäl att oroa sig för de europiska staternas solvens.
ECB Buying Up Greek Bonds
Som sig bör av en man av värld läser Pagrotsky Financial Times och han citerade varnande en artikel ur dagens nummer:
- The eurozone’s €440bn debt guarantee scheme is tantamount to the adoption of a Nato-style mutual defence clause and marks an “unprecedented” change to the bloc’s treaties, according to France’s Europe minister.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Pierre Lellouche laid bare the French government’s conviction that the emergency stabilisation scheme agreed earlier this month amounted to a fundamental revision of the European Union’s rules and a leap towards an economic government for the bloc.
“The €440bn mechanism is nothing less than the importation of Nato’s Article 5 mutual defence clause applied to the eurozone. When one member is under attack the others are obliged to come to its defence.”
Read more here:
Frankrikes president Nicolas Sarkozy hotade med att dra Frankrike ur eurosamarbetet
Euro remains on the right side of history
Well, did he say it or didn’t he?
Den franska storbanken BNP Paribas har en exponering mot grekiska statsobligationer på 5 miljarder euro (49 miljarder kronor).
E24 6/5 2010
- Alla scenarion om en spridning av den grekiska krisen till Spanien och Portugal saknar verklighetsförankring, sade BNP Paribas-chefen Baudouin Prot.
BNP Paribas-chefen ville dock inte avslöja bankens exponering mot andra sydeuropeiska länder.
– Den stora risken i ett krisscenario är att bankerna i Tyskland och Frankrike får en rejäl smäll och att vi får en ny vända av finanskris,
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said no such plan would emerge if Greece doesn't default on its debt.
Brussels is enforcing an EU-version of Pierre Laval's deflation decrees in 1935, the policy that tipped France's Third Republic over the edge.
French banks hold €80bn of Greek debts, twice the exposure of German banks, though Greek debt is merely the tip of the iceberg.
"The euro at $1.50 is a disaster for the European economy and industry,"
Anders Borgs plan för balans i EU-ekonomin
It could be that future generations of German politicians find ingenious ways around the balanced budget law.
"The [free-market] liberalism without rules failed
President Nicolas Sarkozy is drawing up plans to boost the political accountability of the European Central Bank
“Some things are easier to legalize than to legitimate.”
The Lisbon Treaty, which provides for the reform of the EU’s institutions, was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution, which was first rejected on May 29, 2005, by 55 percent of French voters and then on June 1, 2005, by 61 percent of Dutch voters.
Måndagen 4 februari röstade franska folkvalda i ett gemensamt möte med senaten och nationalförsamlingen igenom en fransk grundlagsändring som möjliggjorde att de både församlingarna den 7 februari godkände Lissabonfördraget. Den nödvändiga grundlagsändringen för att kunna göra maktöverlåtelsen kunde ske genom att 193 folkvalda ur den s.k.”vänstern” antingen avstod från att rösta eller röstade ja till en förändring 
Frankrike godkände nya EU-fördraget
Referendums on the new European Union Treaty were "dangerous"
President Sarkozy urged the US to maintain a strong dollar policy,
“The yuan is already a problem for everybody. The dollar should not remain simply a problem for others. If we are not careful, monetary disorder risks descending into economic war, of which we would all be victims.”
The dollar, said John Connolly, treasury secretary to Richard Nixon, "is our currency, but your problem".
"Some thougths about the future of the euro"
"Europe must progressively affirm itself as a first-rank player for peace and security,
Professor Paul de Grauwe
Mr Sarkozy may run into "unexpected problems" according to the EPC paper.
Mr Sarkozy's calls for a “European economic government”
As far as the Eurocrats can make out, economic government means giving elected national politicians the last word over broad swathes of EU economic policy,
A French history of the single currency* credits François Mitterrand with the first public call for “an economic government for Europe”, in an October 1990 speech to a Franco-German summit in Paris. In a rhetorical flourish that Mr Sarkozy might envy, Mr Mitterrand called Europe's planned single currency and central bank mere instruments that lacked a soul.
A second headache is the reopening of old debates about how sovereign states should align their economies and merge currencies, but at the same time remain democratically accountable to voters.
The truth is that big countries do not have to obey the same rules, and Mr Sarkozy will probably get away with missing the original 2010 target for eliminating his budget deficit. This is not so shocking: the pact was reformed to allow flexibility to countries undertaking structural reforms.Full text
Germany needs to formulate a response to Sarkozy or the only proposal on the table will be
It was a remarkable performance by Nicolas Sarkozy when he visited the Eurogroup in Brussels. He managed to avoid a confrontation, and to defuse some of the criticisms launched against him by Peer Steinbruck, the German finance minister.
I have argued in my recent Financial Times Deutschland column that Germany needs to formulate a response to Sarkozy. Or better, that Germany makes its own proposal to improve economic policy co-ordination in the euro area. If not, the only proposal on the table will be Sarkozy’s anti-stability, anti-competition, pro-currency-intervention proposals.
President Nicolas Sarkozy
Mr Sarkozy seeks a stronger “political Europe”:
The new French president likes to provoke, but he should choose his enemies with care. On trade protection, and Turkey, he may antagonise the British. He can live with that. If he challenges the powers of the European Central Bank, he will have to face the wrath of Berlin.
Mr Sarkozy seeks a stronger “political Europe”: a permanent EU presidency to replace the present six-monthly rotation, a foreign minister, “reinforced co-operation” between smaller groups of member states on policies that all 27 cannot agree, and more majority voting – especially in the area of immigration. He is neatly in the centre ground between the maximalists who want the full constitution – such as Italy’s Romano Prodi – and the minimalists, doubtless including any future British government under Gordon Brown.
Mr Sarkozy already presents himself as a “good European”. Yet he is not a natural man of consensus. On other issues, he remains ominously Gaullist: he wants Europe to provide more “protection” against the effects of globalisation, condemns “naivety” in EU negotiations on the Doha round, and wants more “economic governance” to counterbalance the powers of the European Central Bank. He is adamant that Turkey should not join the EU.
A voting share of 53 per cent sounds impressive. But a closer analysis of the French presidential election throws up a perplexing result. According to Ipsos*, the polling organisation, 18-59 year olds – those who work and pay most of the taxes – overwhelmingly voted for Ségolène Royal, the defeated Socialist candidate
Tom Peters, the management guru, has made another interesting observation in his blog. While Mr Sarkozy was campaigning on a “back-to-work” ticket, he owed his election victory to people who are no longer in work. Mr Peters says by sending the young back to work, the “six-zero plussers can get their hands on the loot they need to spend their remaining winters in Nice”.
Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy are both exceptional and talented politicians. But I do not buy the argument that they are representatives of a new age of centre-right European politics. I think it is far more likely that they will turn out to be transitional figures in brave defiance of a tectonic shift to the left in their countries.
Although it is widely known that our Social Security and Medicare Programs are threatened by these demographic trends, there are many who believe that they have accumulated sufficient private wealth to fund their retirement.
European finance ministers
Alain Lamassoure, tipped to be the new Europe minister in the Sarkozy government, said Paris will agree to stick "as much as possible to the original text."
Mr Sarkozy wants a pared down treaty that can be approved by national parliaments only, while Ms Royal and Mr Bayrou - who also favours a slimmer treaty - both want a referendum.
France's elections will also have profound implications for Europe and its attempts to revive talks on internal institutional reform, with the topic until very recently being taboo at political level since the EU constitution was rejected by French voters in May 2005.
The French created the European Union, so it would be appropriate if they destroyed it.
Listen to the arguments made by the leading candidates in the French presidential election – Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal – and it sounds as if they are intent on taking a sledgehammer to the “Common European home”, built by their compatriots Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and Jacques Delors.
The visions of Europe that they are dangling before French voters are likely to be unacceptable to the rest of the EU. So the French presidential election is setting the stage for confrontation between France and its European partners in Brussels, followed by rampant euroscepticism at home.
In Paris 10 days ago, I heard Mr Sarkozy give a speech to a group of young entrepreneurs that directly attacked the euro. He blamed the single currency for undermining French competitiveness, for raising prices and for hobbling French growth. Mr Sarkozy’s proposed solution is not to leave the single currency, but to set up an “economic government” for the EU. This seems to be a code for scrapping the independence of the European Central Bank. But any such idea is likely to be unacceptable to Germany, where central bank independence is a quasi-religious concept.
Ségolène Royal’s faltering presidential campaign was dealt a further blow on Monday as François Hollande,
The latest poll, published yesterday by Le Figaro, gave Mr Sarkozy 27 per cent, against 25.5 per cent for Ms Royal and 23 per cent for Mr Bayrou. Mr Le Pen was fourth with 12 per cent.
An overwhelming majority of citizens in the big eurozone countries believe the euro has damaged their national economies, highlighting the popular scepticism that still surrounds Europe’s eight-year-old monetary union.
Even Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy are attempting to divert the blame for France's ills on to others by taking cheap shots at the European Commission and the European Central Bank.
But even the leading contenders from the two mainstream parties - Ségolène Royal from the opposition Socialist party and Nicolas Sarkozy from the ruling UMP party - are demanding a complete break with the past. They too are seeking to dissociate themselves from a system with which they have both been intimately linked - in different ministerial jobs and elected positions - for the past quarter of a century. They are also attempting to divert the blame for France's ills on to others by taking cheap shots at the European Commission and the European Central Bank.
On key issues, moreover, such as Turkey's accession to the EU, she (Ségolène Royal) has declared that "her opinion is that of the French people" - whatever that may be. Such opportunism may help win her short-term popularity but it is an abdication of her responsibility for leadership.
Ségolène Royal, socialist candidate for the presidential elections:
France's prime minister Dominique de Villepin:
In a landmark speech mapping out his vision for Europe, Mr Sarkozy called on European leaders to agree a "mini-treaty" that would salvage the urgently required institutional reforms laid out in the original draft constitution.
One Country - One President
"Oron för ett ”Europas förenta stater” är obefogad"
Officiell fransk kritik mot EMU
For the first time, an official French report has criticised the Euro. The latest report of the Council for Economic Analysis (CAE) given to the French government on 23 March, “Economic policy and Growth in Europe,” written by Philippe Aghion, Élie Cohen and Jean Pisani-Ferry, draws up a really tough assessment on the single currency and the actions of the Euro zone.
Few things can fill the Anglo soul with such warm happiness as the sight of the French getting hysterical in public. Parisian riots are of a marvellously win-win proposition.
There is a deep British pleasure in watching the Frogs riot in Paris but perhaps, and it’s only a small perhaps, but perhaps they’re right. Maybe the cravenly entitled students and the lazy, fat, nose-thumbing unions are more right than wrong. All market societies work on a balance between employer and employee, between what one can get away with and the other will put up with. It’s a pendulum that swings hither and thither; perhaps now it’s too much in the favour of business. The whole first world is having China and India held up as a dreadful competitive warning.
The prime minister is portrayed in the media as an idealistic political leader who tried to do the right thing, but failed.
French youth unemployment is among the highest in the western world. It has oscillated between 20 and 30 per cent since the mid-1980s and is now at the lower end of this band, but with no signs of a futher decline. Tito Boeri of Bocconi University in Milan and Pietro Garibaldi at the University of Turin argue* that Mr de Villepin’s CPE accentuates the intergenerational conflict between labour market insiders and outsiders. They conclude that for as long as this conflict persists, there will be no genuine labour market reform.
has acute problems getting its young people into work. Mass access to the school-leaving exam and to universities has not been matched by more jobs for the young. Fewer than 30% of French 15-24-year-olds are in employment, way below the OECD average and half the rate in Britain. And many of those with jobs are on short-term contracts that often last no more than a couple of months; they find it hard to move into steadier work.
Moreover, the new contract was devised partly in response to last autumn's rioting in France's troubled suburbs. Indeed it is not meant primarily for students, many of whom will not even graduate before they reach 25, at all—but rather for those who leave school with no qualifications and face unemployment rates as high as 40-50%. For them, even two years under the new job contracts would offer work experience that might lead on to something better than a life on the dole.
If President Chirac and his ministers had any sense they would stop philosophising about the ideals of the French Revolution and would focus instead on the practical policies required to accelerate the economy’s growth rate
Between late 1980 and 1984, interest rates in Britain were slashed from 17 per cent to 8.5 per cent. As a result of these dramatic rate cuts, the value of sterling halved from $2.40 in early 1981 to just $1.05, giving what was left of Britain’s manufacturing industry an enormous boost.
The monetary stimulus from these rare cuts and devaluation was what triggered the recovery of the British economy — far more than Mrs Thatcher’s labour and trade union reforms. Significantly, only one of the great supply-side reforms for which Mrs Thatcher is now remembered was implemented before the economic recovery of 1982-84. This was the sale of council houses and financial deregulation that helped to produce the house price boom of 1982-85.
The labour reforms and privatisations that came later were absolutely necessary to consolidate the recovery of the early 1980s and to prevent it developing into an inflationary spiral; but it was the monetary easing, devaluation and housing boom that got the economy moving.
It is difficult to argue with a 56 per cent vote on a high turnout of 70 per cent. And if there is any comfort to be drawn from this seismic event, it is that
It is difficult to recall anything positive about Jacques Chirac's 10 years in office. Mr Chirac occupies the Elysée palace thanks to a freak landslide victory in 2002 when the French left was forced to support him to keep out Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Front National leader. The French president's support was borrowed, not earned, and on Sunday many voters gleefully called in their loans.
President Jacques Chirac tog under torsdagskvällens tal på sig rollen som pedagog och
Ja, konstitutionen är ett vapen mot utflyttningen av franska företag och ja, konstitutionen kommer att bättre skydda européerna mot såväl terrorism som epidemier och miljöproblem, enligt Chirac.
1. "The constitution is a noble document designed to help today's enlarged EU march on more efficiently towards an “ever closer union”, one that can be strong in the face of the United States
France's referendum has not yet been held but the inquests have already begun about why the Yes campaign has floundered.
Even though the political parties supporting the constitution have had more airtime on national radio and television to explain their views, the No campaign has been able to sway the public debate by effective grassroots mobilisation and paradoxically the innovative use of one of the tools of globalisation, the internet.
Dozens of websites and blogs have been created by the No campaigners to spread their criticisms of the constitution and the political elite. “The No has won the internet battle,” Mr Reynié says. “They have created a counter-culture, a parallel system to the official media. It is an insurrection against the professional journalists.”
För information via internet, vänd Dig med förtroende till
"People are waking up and realizing that the French are probably going to vote no ...
If the French and the Dutch reject the EU Constitution on Sunday and Wednesday, they should re-run the referendums, the current president of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said.
"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again", Mr Juncker said in an interview with Belgian daily Le Soir.
Why has an apparently persistent opposition to the European constitution emerged in France, a country so often at the forefront of European construction?
The theory of a punishment vote is flawed, given that the main opposition, the Socialist party, backs the constitution.
It may be that the No vote is a wholesale rejection of the political class that has pushed forward the European project and is now losing its credibility. But it is more than a simple change of mood towards politics: it has to do with the entire concept of Europe.
Medan allas blickar varit riktade mot Frankrike har Nederländerna, som röstar tre dagar senare, i skymundan seglat upp som den verkliga rysaren.
If the No vote wins in France
The No camp counters feverishly that the constitution is really about a conspiratorial supra-national organisation rewriting the past to entrench its power. Not so different to the Da Vinci code.
Few books have proved as popular as The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. But there are some surprise contenders in Paris, where much of its action takes place: five of the top 10 best-selling non-fiction books are about Europe's constitutional treaty.
The Yes campaigners fear that if they acknowledge Plan B's existence they will only encourage voters to ask what's in it. The No camp claims that whatever it contains must be better than Plan A.
According to the latest opinion poll published on Sunday, the No camp commands 52 per cent support in France.
The No camp may have received a further boost yesterday after the election setback of Gerhard Schröder.
Dutch opinion polls show resistance to the treaty hardening. On Friday a poll by TNS NIPO, for RTL television news, had the No campaign with 54 per cent and Yes at 27 per cent. The same day a poll by Interview NSS for Nova television gave No 63 per cent and Yes 37 per cent.
Till vardags brukar Frankrike vara enkelt att förstå sig på. Presidenten bestämmer, parlamentet godkänner och regeringen verkställer.
Oavsett den fråga som ställs i folkomröstningen lyder det spontana svaret inte "ja" eller "nej" utan "skit" (merde!). Och det riktar sig i dag i första hand mot den franske presidenten, Jacques Chirac.
I september 1992 befann sig Francois Mitterrand i samma dramatiska beråd som Chirac i dag. Då gällde folkomröstningen formellt sett Maastricht-fördraget men i realiteten även Mitterrands ställning. På frågan om han tänkte avgå vid en nej-seger svarade Mitterrand att det argumentet att rösta nej tänkte han inte bjuda på.
Då som nu eskalerade överdrifterna. Nej-sidans profiler jämförde Bryssel med Moskva och påstod att en gemensam valuta skulle leda till ett gemensamt språk i Europa - engelska. Franska språket skulle vara utrotningshotat.
Mitterrand var inte sämre. Han förklarade i sin slutplädering i tv att ett ja till Maastricht skulle skydda Frankrike mot aids, terrorism och japanska bilar.
RE: Visst är det konstigt att det bara är Ja-sägarna som förstår och besvarar folkomröstningsfrågan utan ovidkommande hänsyn....
De tre ledarna betonade också att det inte finns någon "Plan B" om fransmännen säger nej.
- Europatanken föddes här i Frankrike. Det är Frankrikes ansvar att inte svika oss andra européer vad gäller konstitutionen.
- Vi behöver ett ja för att skapa ett starkt och solidariskt Europa, sade Kwasniewski och konstaterade att ett franskt nej till konstitutionen skulle bli mycket svårt att förklara för de polska väljarna.
De tre ledarna betonade också att det inte finns någon "Plan B" om fransmännen säger nej.
Nu pågår till och med en debatt om debatten.
Det började med ett upprop från ett stort antal tv-journalister, som menade att medierna tagit ställning för ja-sidan och helt oförblommerat för kampanj för ett ja till EU-konstitutionen. Mätningar har också visat att ja-sidan fått betydligt större utrymme i tv än nej-sidan. Uppropet har på två veckor samlat omkring 14.000 underskrifter.
Kallsvetten börjar på nytt lacka i EU-huvudstädernas regeringskanslier
En anledning till att nejkampanjen åter vinner terräng tycks vara att allt fler väljare övertygas om att en nejröst inte får negativa konsekvenser utan tvärtom kan leda till en ny förhandling med ett bättre utfall.
EU-kommissionens respekterade förre ordförande Jacques Delors sade att "sanningen bjuder oss att säga att det kan finnas en plan B" vid ett franskt nej, även om det skulle skapa stora problem.
Free elections sure can be a drag.
Three opinion polls yesterday put the nons in the driver's seat less than two weeks before France's referendum on the EU Constitution. After the ouis retook the poll lead earlier in May, the latest shift in momentum will turn the pro-constitution French and European establishment back into Cassandras, proclaiming that a rejection would mean the end of the EU as we know it.
The best-seller list alone should make any Europhile weep with joy. Seven of the top 20 nonfiction titles are on the constitution. The 475-page treaty itself, in four parts, 36 protocols and two annexes, was the top seller in the L'Express-RTL ranking for five consecutive weeks. Commuters on the Paris subway can be spotted reading this ungainly document. Two of the four nonpartisan guides to the treaty are among the top five best sellers, ahead of Bob Dylan's autobiography. Further down are two anticonstitution tomes from Attac, the antiglobalization group. As a category, only Dan Brown of "Da Vinci Code" fame seems to outsell Euro-fare these days.
Thanks to the referendum, this EU member state is belatedly digesting "Europe." Too many other EU politicians lacked the courage of President Jacques Chirac (no typo here) and opted for a rubber stamp in their parliaments. What a lost opportunity to narrow the EU's democracy deficit, especially since the constitution is sold as a landmark event in EU history.
Of course, Mr. Chirac, the opposition Socialists and all the mainstream media are aghast that the French public won't, like Pavlov's dog, vote "yes" on command. Free elections sure can be a drag.
If the French do indeed shoot down the constitution even some leading /US/ administration officials are likely to cheer.
It would seriously undermine prospects for EU enlargement to include key American friends such as Turkey and Ukraine.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is author of Allies at War: America, Europe and the Crisis Over Iraq (McGraw Hill)
Notwithstanding some neoconservative fantasies in the US, in no way would the constitution undermine the Nato alliance or oblige US allies such as Britain and Poland to follow France and Germany on issues like Iraq.
If the French say No, it is an illusion to think they will simply be asked to vote again later, as the Danes and Irish did after voters rejected previous EU treaties.
The result of a French No would be the sort of disunity and political paralysis that makes the current EU such an awkward partner for other countries to deal with. With French politics thrown into disarray and Mr Chirac discredited, big initiatives would be put on hold until the next French presidential election in 2007.
The No campaign has regained the lead, as voters ignore warnings about the damage that would be caused by rejection of Europe's constitutional treaty.
The - possibly fatal - conceit was to dress up necessary reforms of EU institutions in the guise of a constitution,
Den franska folkomröstningdebatten förs numera på nätet, läser jag i franska tidningar. Särskilt nejsidan, som kanske med rätta anser sig styvmoderligt behandlad av etablerade medier, för fram sitt budskap i cyberrymde
Den politiska veckotidningen Le Nouvel Observateur, som är för de förslag till ny grundlag för EU som de franska väljarna ska rösta om 29 maj, klagar i en ledarartikel över att nejkampanjen inte får tillräckligt utrymme för sina argument i radio, tv och stora tidningar.
Jasidan har så småningom upptäckt att det kanske inte räcker med välmodulerade tv-framträdanden på bästa sändningstid för att övertyga de yngre delarna av en misstrogen väljarkår, som på nätet vant sig vid skarpa argument med högre känslotryck.
En opinionsundersökning som publicerades i Paris Matchs nätupplaga visar en exakt jämvikt. 50-50, mellan lägren.
Mätningen gjordes av opinionsinstitutet Ifop på tisdagen och onsdagen. På onsdagen höll president Jacques Chirac ett tv-sänt tal till fransmännen om vikten av konstitutionen.
- Säger vi nej blir vi inte bara kvar i det förflutna, vi försvagar också Frankrike märkbart. Den här konstitutionen vänder ryggen åt dem som försvarar tesen om Europa som endast en inre marknad. Den förenar kravet på en stor marknad och kravet på en social harmonisering, sade Chirac i talet och försäkrade dessutom att konstitutionen är "huvudsakligen franskinspirerad".
Dutch political leaders have scrambled into action on behalf of the Yes campaign for the European constitution,
In another weekend poll for Dutch television, Maurice de Hond found the No vote leading the Yes camp 52 per cent to 48 per cent. It predicted a 32 per cent turnout.However, a poll by Interview-NSS, also for Dutch television, found Yes with 64 per cent to No's 36 per cent.The government's own survey has Yes ahead, but with its lead slipping. Of those certain or likely to vote, the Yes vote fell from 44 per cent in March to 39 per cent in April, while No climbed from 23 per cent to 26 per cent. One third are undecide
Bland de grupper som tidigare varit postiva till EU-samarbetet, vilket ofta många unga människor varit,
Jämför med Pernilla Ström
Det är fasligt vad det koketteras inom vissa näringslivskretsar om EMU nu för tiden.
The French No to the treaty signalled by the opinion polls would upend everything.
As far as I can tell, no one in Paris believes that Jacques Chirac would be willing to present it to the electorate again before the next presidential election in two years' time. How then could other governments proceed to ratify a treaty that the French president had declared to be dead? This is not a British problem. Forget Mr Blair here, and ask if Poland, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Denmark could secure the backing of their voters for the treaty.
It was the British prime minister's surprise decision last year to call a referendum that forced the French president to do likewise. This, according to the French version of events, after Mr Blair had privately pleaded with Mr Chirac over many months to rejects calls in France for a plebiscite. To make matters worse, the prime minister did not even bother to tell the president when he changed his mind and announced the British vote. Little wonder Anglo-French relations have since been less than cordiale.
The latest poll suggests that more than 60% of French adults would vote against
Three weeks ago, the political leadership of the European Union had no Plan B if the French vote No in their referendum on the EU constitutional treaty on May 29. This is no longer the case.
Knut Ståhlbergs mästerliga biografi över Charles de Gaulle
Financial Times editorial:
DN, Ingrid Hedström
- Den här grundlagen är början på ett konstitutionellt Europa med värden att försvara och politiska strukturer. Jag tycker att vi med den tar steget bort från ett enbart marknadsinriktat Europa. Därför försvarar jag den.
Den som röstar nej till konstitutionen för att ge nyliberalismen en snyting skjuter sig själv i foten, anser Cohn-Bendit, eftersom en stor del av de nya inslagen i förslaget "handlar om att komma förbi den renodlat marknadsinriktade definitionen av Europa".
- Och jag säger att om vi vill ha ett Europa som kan ta ansvar i världen, också gentemot amerikanerna och deras unilaterala sätt att handskas med världen, då måste vi stärka Europa politiskt och det gör konstitutionen.
- Vi har en mycket djup kris mellan allt fler människor och de styrande. Det finns ett avståndstagande från eliten, den politiska eliten, kultur-eliten och även medieeliten, inklusive mig själv. Vi kan inte knyta an till en massa människor därför att de inte längre har förtroende för oss.- Vi har en mycket djup kris mellan allt fler människor och de styrande. Det finns ett avståndstagande från eliten, den politiska eliten, kultur-eliten och även medieeliten, inklusive mig själv. Vi kan inte knyta an till en massa människor därför att de inte längre har förtroende för oss.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit är fortfarande vår fiende
DN, Ingrid Hedström
- Globaliseringen, som oroar det franska folket, och som drivs av en ultraliberal strömning, gynnar de starkaste.
What, then, is the real issue before the voters of France? A few days ago I heard this question beautifully answered for a British audience by Charles Gave, a prominent French economist who also happens to be my business partner: “Why will the French vote “no”? Because this referendum gives them the chance of a lifetime to vote simultaneously against the two politicians they have hated most for the past 30 years: Chirac and Giscard. To understand what the average Frenchman thinks of these two defunct septuagenarians claiming to speak for the nation, imagine how people in Britain would feel if they turned on the TV news and found Harold Wilson still arguing with Ted Heath.”
The alternatives offered to the people of France are not between the idealistic European multiculturalism of the 21st century and the xenophobic nationalism of the 19th. Rather they face a choice between two approaches: on one hand the liberal ideology of free markets and small governments that seems to be sweeping the world after its relaunch in Britain and America in the 1980s.
The alternative is the 1970s belief that a centralised, protectionist and bureaucratically managed state could gradually be extended to the whole of Europe, preserving and enhancing the traditions of Gaullism in its glory days, when Chirac and Giscard were rising to power.
Why would the failure of the EU constitution advance liberalisation? First because it would be a wake-up call for the politicians and officials who have so mismanaged the European economy since the mid-1990s that France, Germany and Italy, which used to be among the world’s most prosperous and technologically advanced countries, have not just fallen behind America, Japan and Britain but now see their jobs and leading industries threatened with extinction by South Korea, Taiwan and even China.
A “no” vote would be such a shock to Europe’s governing elites that the European Central Bank may well recognise that the only alternative to lower interest rates and a weaker euro will be the complete collapse of the single-currency project.
Journalist associations from three large rival TV channels (France 2, France 3 and M6) have denounced, amongst other things, the lack of political analysts on the programme.
Three topics will be discussed: the referendum on the EU Constitution, the perspectives for France in Europe, and Europe's place in the world.
The programme, called "Referendum: live from the Elysee", is to be aired in prime time (20h50) and hosted by TF1's most widely-known journalist, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor. The young people present on the set will be between 18 to 25 years old.
One senior EU official said: “We may want to issue a political statement quickly to try to limit the damage. Then we would try to pick up the pieces at the EU summit on June 16-17.”
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin:
If France approves the EU constitution, French Yes campaigners will have provided British Eurosceptics with plenty of ammunition for the UK's poll next year.
Barbro Hedvall, DNs ledarsida
Euron är främst ett politiskt projekt, ett nödvändigt steg mot Europas Förenta Stater.
Om det bara handlade om ekonomi finns det fördelar med euron, men också nackdelar. Jag menar att fördelarna uppväger, men det är ganska jämt.
De politiska fördelarna med att vara med i eurokretsen är däremot huvudskälet för att vara med.
OLLE WÄSTBERGS NYHETSBREV 17 JUNI 2010
Att Euron är en problematisk valuta har sagts från början. Länderna som ingår har olika förutsättningar att parera ”asymmetriska chocker”, d v s stora utifrån kommande problem som drabbar ett land. Ett gemensamt valutaområde kräver både penning- och finanspolitik, och euroområdet har bara penningpolitik, d v s endast en riksbank och inget finansdepartement.
Euro remains on the right side of history
The writer is president of Notre Europe and chairman for Europe of Promontory Financial Group. He is a former Italian finance minister and a former member of the ECB’s executive board
Over many months, a mighty army has advanced on the citadel of the European currency with the cry: “It will never work!” The army was quick and single-minded, the citadel slow and divided. The besiegers were thousands, steeled by convictions all the more fervent for their extreme simplicity.
Equally strong and simple was the credo of the defenders, who countered: “It can work!” For years, Europe’s heads of government and central bankers had preached that a currency without a state is a smart invention that can last forever
Enemies as they are, the two camps share the same prime article of faith: that the nation-state is and will continue to be the absolute sovereign within its borders. Both believe that international relations will continue to be based on the twin postulates of internal homogeneity and external independence, a model invented by the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.
What they did not understand was that, in our era, the dynamics of history consist precisely of the search – largely unguided, often painful but inexorable – for an optimal distribution of power along the scale of ever-wider human aggregations, which are tied by common interests more than by tribal identity.
In this battle, the citadel emerged as the winner because it finally set aside hesitation, prejudice and division. But in a deeper sense it lost, too. It was mistaken in its belief that the euro and full national sovereignty are compatible. The attackers saw the incompatibility, but were mistaken in their belief that it was the euro, rather than the Westphalian dogma, that would emerge most damaged.
The army is formidable but it bets on the wrong cause: a return to the old world of flexible exchange rates, where each country deludes itself that it can be insulated from its neighbours and tries to foster growth through competitive devaluations, reneging on debts when it sees fit.
At stake in this struggle, ultimately, is the ideology of the omnipotent nation-state.
Annika Ström Melin, vårt lands mest kunniga journalist i detta ämne, ställer EMU-frågan på sin spets.
EMU förutsätter en federal stat
Utan Europas förenta stater kommer EMU att spränga EU
Socialismen var en utopistisk och deterministisk ideologi.
Federalisterna, Jugoslavien, Annika Ström Melin och Göran Persson
Euron spricker när dollarn faller
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the French referendum on the European constitution for the future of the European Union.
Without the prospect of eventual political union on the basis of some constitutional treaty, a single currency was always difficult to justify, and it might turn out to be even more difficult to sustain. I never thought it was possible to defend the euro purely on economic grounds. At best, the euro might have proved economically neutral for most, and beneficial for some. In reality, the eurozone probably falls somewhat short of this ideal scenario.
But what if eventual political union suddenly seemed less likely than political fragmentation? Without the goal of some form of political union, could we still expect Germany or the Netherlands, for example, to be committed forever to a currency area whose monetary policies might not suit the economic conditions of their particular economies? Without the politics, the euro is not nearly as attractive.
This is in spite of the fact that this is a poor constitution from an economic point of view.
Politiker i Nederländerna ser med oro på att nej-sidan leder i valkampanjen inför folkomröstningen om EU-konstitutionen i Frankrike.
I slutet av maj ska Frankrike folkomrösta om EU:s nya författning och EU:s ledare väntar med oro på resultatet.Flera opinionsundersökningar har visat att nej-sidan leder med en knapp majoritet och det kastar också en skugga över folkomröstningen om författningen i Holland i början av juni.
Den holländska regeringen startade en ny kampanj för EU:s nya författning på tisdagen för att försöka förhindra att den negativa stämningen bland de franska väljarna sprider sig till Nederländerna. I helsidesannonser i de holländska morgontidningarna uppmanades väljarna att delta i folkomröstningen den 1 juni och till dess lära sig mer om författningen genom att läsa gratistidningen om konstitutionen som ska publiceras i tabloidformat nästa vecka.
Men det kanske inte alls blir någon holländsk folkomröstning.Om fransmännen röstar nej den 29 maj så överväger den holländska regeringen och ja-kampanjen att ställa in alltihop och hålla vallokalerna stängda.Ytterligare ett nej till EU:s författning i Holland, tre dagar efter ett fransk avvisande skulle vara det närmaste man kan komma en katastrof för EU.
The proposal for a new European Union services directive, issued when Frits Bolkestein was single market commissioner, is under attack from all sides.
A narrow majority of voters is inclined to reject Mr Giscard's beloved constitution threatening to bring the European project juddering to a halt.
Mr Giscard said it would be impossible to renegotiate such a document, especially as it had already been ratified by several countries. "We would have a crisis," he concluded.
The possibility of just such a crisis crystallising in France has significantly increased in recent weeks, according to a batch of opinion polls. These have all shown that a narrow majority of voters is inclined to reject Mr Giscard's beloved constitution in a national referendum on May 29, threatening to bring the European project juddering to a halt.
When President Jacques Chirac announced on July 14 last year that he was to hold a referendum to approve the constitution, pro-European sentiment was strong. An electoral triumph would reinforce Mr Chirac's political authority, giving him the perfect platform to launch a bid for a third presidential term in 2007 if he so desired. But events have since conspired against him. The opinion polls show that the French electorate has grown increasingly unhappy with his government, insecure about the country's economic future and worried about the way the EU has been developing.
The second great difficulty bedevilling the Yes campaign is that their opponents are proving an elusive and effective enemy, refusing to be drawn into a battle on the government's chosen ground.
On the left, Laurent Fabius, the former prime minister and deputy leader of the Socialist party, has been the most articulate critic of the constitution.
Some elements of the Gaullist right are also campaigning against the constitution, arguing against both Turkey's entry and any further loss of sovereignty to Brussels. Charles Pasqua, the Gaullist senator and former interior minister who opposed the Maastricht treaty of 1992 that paved the way for the euro, last weekend pitched in for the No campaign. "Federal, ultra-liberal, Atlanticist - such is the Europe in which we have been living since Maastricht and such is the Europe that is being celebrated in this constitution," he said, accusing Mr Chirac's UMP of abandoning its Gaullist heritage.
The Yes camp is also teeming with political sub-plots. Mr Sarkozy's voters have been whispering to the press that a No vote would kill off any chances of Mr Chirac's running for a third term, leaving the field free for their man to emerge as the natural leader of the right. Le Canard Enchainé, the investigative newspaper, has even reported that the Elysée Palace had grown so suspicious of Mr Sarkozy that it ordered his telephones to be bugged.
France’s Yes campaigners on Europe like to draw comfort from their victory in the referendum in 1992, when they persuaded voters to adopt the euro. But it would be rash to draw too much reassurance: the result in 1992 was close and both the context and the content of the two campaigns are very different.
Sylvie Goulard, a professor at Sciences Po, Paris’s political sciences school, argues there are three main differences between the situation in 1992 and 2005 - all to the detriment of the current Yes campaign.
First, the opposition to the euro was conducted mainly on a rarefied level, with opponents of the single currency focusing on economics.
I believe the odds still favour ratification. But since the last five opinion polls before the weekend put the No vote ahead, it is perfectly legitimate to ask what would happen if the French voted this way.
Compared with a French Non, the consequences of a British No are almost trivial. In a much noted pamphlet, Charles Grantfrom the Centre for European Reform in London set out in great detail how a British No would trigger the formation of a coreEurope based around France and Germany.* This would leave the UK politically isolated. An EU without the UK is imaginable. An EU without France is not.
The French No campaign opposes the EU constitution for precisely the opposite reason to that of Britain's eurosceptics. The French are fervent pro-Europeans, who believe that the EU is becoming too "Anglo-Saxon".
If a French No were simply regarded as a vote of no-confidence in the EU in general, and in President Jacques Chirac in particular, the consequences would be even worse. There would be a political crisis in French domestic politics.
The crisis would quickly engulf the whole EU. An immediate consequence of a No vote in any of these scenarios would be the indefinite postponement of enlargement talks with Turkey and Croatia. One of the rationales for the constitution was to prepare the EU for enlargement by reducing the threshold for a qualified majority. Turkey could then look forward to another 40 years of waiting in the EU's antechamber.
This leaves us with two rather unpalatable options: a coreEurope in which the EU would remain little more than the shell of a single market; or an empty shell without a core. It is no wonder that some people find a French No vote "too awful to contemplate".
An Ifop poll published Sunday 3/4 said 55 per cent would vote No.
Recent opinion polls have highlighted an increasing possibility of French voters overturning the European constitution in a referendum on May 29, once an unthinkable prospect. An Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday said 55 per cent would vote No.
“Polls for most elections are not very reliable. But for a very simple question, Yes or No, they are very reliable,” he said. “If the French vote were tomorrow it would be almost surely No.”
Debatten inför den franska folkomröstningen börjar
få nästan spöklikt många likheter med debatten inför den
Precis som i Sverige ökar nejsidan långsamt och obevekligt sin andel av valmanskåren.
Och precis som i Sverige finns den kontroversilla Bilden - fotot som får vänstersinnade jaförespråkare att rysa av obehag, men som ger meningar nickningar från dem som i jakampanjen ser en eliternas sammansvärning mot folket.
I Sverige var det bilden av Ericsson-chefen Carl-Henrik Svanberg kindpussande socialdemokratiska utrikesministern och kronprinsessan Anna Lindh.
I Frankrike är det bilden av s-ledaren Francois Hollande sida vid sida med högerns hopp, UMP-ledaren och tidigare ministern Nicolas Sarkozy, på omslaget till Paris Match.
De båda partiledarna ser onekligen ut som tvillingar på bilden. De bär likadana mörkblå kostymer, likadana ljusblå skjortor och slipsar i exakt samma mellanblå nyans. Likada leenden dessutom.
För frustrerade franska väljare blir det lätt ett bevis för att Hollande och Sarkozy har samma svar, eller brist på svar, på deras oroliga frågor om arbetslöshet, företagsutflyttningar och sociala problem.
Låt oss tänka det otänkbara.
När EU:s politiker lyfter huvudet ur sanden flyr de in i formaljuridiken. Vi kan fortsätta att leva med det gällande Nicefördraget. Och det går ju ett litet tag till. Fram till 2007 då Bulgarien och Rumänien blir EU-medlemmar. Därefter blir Nicefördraget obrukbart.
Det var Jacques Chirac som förhandlade för Frankrike, som undertecknade det konstitutionella fördraget, som den 14 juli i fjol utlovade en folkomröstning, som formulerade frågeställningen och som bestämde valdagen. Kort sagt, Chirac är ja-sidans främste företrädare. Vid en ja-seger är Chirac vinnaren, vid en nej-seger är han förloraren.
Gloom about Europe's economic outlook intensified markedly on Thursday after a plunge in economic confidence across the continent and further rises in French and German unemployment.
In forecasts in line with those to be published by the Commission next week, Euroframe expected eurozone growth of just 1.5 per cent this year, after 1.8 per cent in 2004.
The French and German governments, meanwhile, face increasing political pressures caused by high unemployment. Patrick Devedjian, French industry minister, described as “very bad” figures showing the country's jobless rate at a five-year high of 10.1 per cent in February.
German unemployment, nevertheless, rose in March by a seasonally adjusted 92,000 to almost 5m, or 12 per cent of the workforce
I undersökningen som publicerades igår i Le Figaro uppger 54 procent att de säkert röstar nej
i omröstningen den 29 maj.
Sedan länge har Chirac hårda motståndare som kommer från hans egen politiska familj. Där finns några mycket aktiva euro-dissidenter som framför allt vill bekämpa Bryssel och försvara Frankrikes suveränitet. Till dessa ”suveränister” hör gamla framträdande ministrar som Charles Pasqua och Philippe Seguin.
Nicolas Sarkozy, ledaren för presidentens eget parti (UMP), liksom François Bayrou, ledaren för det lilla center-högerpartiet UDF, tillhör dem som motsätter sig Turkiets EU-ambitioner, medan Chirac säger ja till Turkiet.
Den verkliga mardrömmen för Chirac vore att den allt intensivare kampanjen utvecklas till en förtroendeomröstning om presidenten och hans impopulära regering. För tre år sedan röstade vänstern för Jacques Chirac i presidentvalet eftersom alternativet var Jean-Marie Le Pen. Chirac behöver åter detta stöd men i dag talar många inom vänstern om behovet av en ”hälsosam kris” i EU och i Frankrike.
Something structural is going on as well: the rise of a new Euroscepticism.
Unemployment is over 10%. Growth is still sluggish. Rents are rising. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets. Yet the government lacks any serious plan to revive the economy or increase jobs. Moreover, a whiff of sleaze hangs in the air, after the resignation of Hervé Gaymard as finance minister over a housing scandal, not to mention the opening this week of a corruption trial that fingers colleagues of Mr Chirac when he was mayor of Paris.
The inclusion of Turkey is seen as yet another symbol of the transformation of the EU into a loose confederation, lacking political ambition, and far removed from the founding French idea.
French Euroscepticism is thus the polar opposite of the British variety: it is not anti-Europe but rather anti-liberal Europe.
Ett ja - och president Chirac kommer att fortsätta att spela i första divisionen tillsammans med den tyske förbundskanslern.
När Frankrike haft sin folkomröstning om konstitutionen kan Barroso och hans medarbetare återkomma med ett omarbetat förslag som fortfarande ställer till stora problem för löntagare och konsumenter.
Mr Chirac said he had chosen to have a referendum on the Constitution out of respect for French citizens and traditions.
To ratify a treaty in France, the President can choose between a referendum and a vote by the Parliament. However, the country has a strong tradition of holding referendums."A referendum as such is a democratic approach", Mr Chirac said.
"I am convinced that this Treaty (the Constitution) is a step forward in terms of economic, social and foreign policy", he said adding that France has "nothing to lose and everything to win" with the document.
He will address the French on the referendum "when the time comes".The French president also said he was happy with the agreement reached on the controversial services directive.
Frankrike ansåg sig ha stoppat det kritiserade förslaget om handel med tjänster. EU-kommissionen menade sig ha fått klartecken för samma förslag.
- Att säga att vi gjort något dramatiskt är helt enkelt inte sant! Det vi gjort är att låta EU:s lagstiftningsarbete fortsätta, med förbehållet att det inte får leda till social dumpning, sade Juncker efter mötet.
- Ingen krävde att tjänstedirektivet skulle dras tillbaka. Tvärtom ansåg alla att vi behöver öppna marknaden för fri handel med tjänster, underströk kommissionens ordförande, José Manuel Barroso.
- Dra tillbaka och dra tillbaka - vad betyder det? svarade den franske presidenten Jacques Chirac undvikande, när han pressades på besked om han verkligen stoppat förslaget.
- De allra flesta länder har någon typ av bekymmer med tjänstedirektivet, samtidigt som alla inser att vi behöver ett sådant, annars hamnar de här frågorna i domstol, säger Sveriges statsminister Göran Persson.
The concessions they won yesterday on services were more apparent than real. For the summiteers urged that the draft plan do what it already largely does: exempt public services, and avoid creating "social dumping" or a downward spiral in pay and standards. For the same reason, the summit did not - contrary to the impression given by Mr Chirac and Mr Schröder - order the Commission to rewrite its draft.
Risken för bakslag i den franska folkomröstningen överskuggar allt mer arbetet i EU.
Om så sker inträffar en omskakande politisk katastrof både för president Jacques Chirac och för EU-samarbetet i sin helhet. Den stora frågan på toppmötet, som avslutas i dag, handlar därför om - och i så fall hur - övriga EU på något sätt kan hjälpa Chirac att vinna omröstningen den 29 maj.
nne i detta reformpaket ligger emellertid ett förslag till liberaliserad tjänstemarknad som väcker mycket starka känslor runt om i Europa. Jacques Chirac och Gerhard Schröder har i mycket aggressiva ordalag förkastat förslaget. Det antogs enhälligt för drygt ett år sedan av Romano Prodis kommission på initiativ av den holländske kommissionären Frits Bolkestein. Den nu hårt trängda nya Barroso-kommissionen har hamnat i dilemmat att den måste hitta en kompromiss som avdramatiserar förslaget utan att för den skull offra de strategiska ambitionerna att skapa en gemensam europeisk tjänstemarknad.
The survey for Le Figaro showed that 52 percent of people who said they were certain to vote would vote no in the referendum
This appeared to confirm a turnaround in French public opinion that was suggested by a poll on Friday, which also showed the no camp forging ahead.Opposition to the new EU charter has grown significantly in a very short space of time, the survey also indicated.
Näringskommissionär Günter Verheugen säger i Financial Times att tjänstedirektivet tas som gisslan i debatten - och att kommissionen skall hjälpa Chirac. Risken är annars att det blir non i maj:
Euroskepticismen är inte längre bara en brittisk paradgren. Den breder ut sig i unionens hjärtland.
Kommissionens ordförande José Manuel Barroso hävdar att franska politiker underblåser eurofobin inför folkomröstningen om konstitutionen den 29 maj. Frankrikes president Jacques Chirac kallar EU:s tjänstedirektiv "oacceptabelt". Näringskommissionär Günter Verheugen säger i Financial Times att tjänstedirektivet tas som gisslan i debatten - och att kommissionen skall hjälpa Chirac. Risken är annars att det blir non i maj: enligt en opinionsmätning i Le Parisien igår tänker 51 procent rösta nej.
Mr Chirac is these days one of the most left-wing of Europe's leaders.
His recent proposal to create an “international solidarity levy” on international financial transactions or airline-ticket sales, so as to finance African development and the fight against AIDS
The French president has no rivals as global spokesman on anti-Americanism, a doctrine that usually belongs to the left in Europe but in France has a long history on the Gaullist right as well.
To this, he has added his own blend of anti-globalisation, globe-trotting with the likes of Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former trade-union leader, and dispatching representatives to the World Social Forum.
Moreover, with his Arabist foreign policy in the Middle East, and his defiant hostility to the war in Iraq, he seems to have a soft-left world outlook that would fit well on any university campus.
On economic matters, this is certainly no market-liberalising, right-wing government. In May, Mr Chirac will celebrate ten years in office. It is hard to detect what mark his decade has left.
Mr Chirac has contined to resist EU efforts to liberalise the energy market. He is now blocking the services directive, which he said this week was “unacceptable” and should be “picked apart”. He has even reactivated an interventionist industrial policy.
His variety of continental conservatism belongs to a social Gaullist tradition, which—like Christian Democracy—often defines itself precisely against liberalism. Under this doctrine, the language of “social cohesion” and “solidarity” belongs to the right as much as to the left. In other words, Mr Chirac has not been liberalising simply because, as one adviser says, “he does not believe in untempered liberalism”.
Visit Paris and the mood of apprehension among the French political classes is unmistakeable. In a little over two months, France will vote on whether to ratify the European Union's constitutional treaty. Few seem certain the answer will be Yes.
Mr Chirac has set May 29 as the date for the treaty referendum. The opinion poll headlines - showing 60 per cent in favour - suggest he should win it comfortably. The politicians are less sure. Opinion has been moving towards the No camp. When pollsters question only those who profess themselves certain to vote, the gap narrows sharply to only 53 per cent in favour.
Behind the nervousness lurks fear of a deeper crisis of identity. France is no longer sure of its place in the world. Much has changed since Maastricht. Little of it is of comfort to France. As a founder member of the club, France has never questioned the rationale for Europe. Beyond the immediate aim of reconciliation with Germany, the European Union has been the essential locus for the advancement of France's national interest.
There is also the ever-present danger that the voters will choose to answer a different question, treating the referendum as a chance to lodge a protest against the government. All this evokes ominous echoes of the Maastricht treaty, ratified by the slimmest of majorities in 1991. Then, as now, the Yes side started well ahead.
Among the organised left - the trade unions and activists who last week put a million demonstrators on the streets to protest against the government's economic policies - opinion is said to be running 70 to 30 per cent for the No camp.
Det franska politiska etablissemanget vill, trots riskerna och trots erfarenheterna av den ytterst knappa ja-segern om Maastrichtavtalet 1992, förankra EU:s traktat i folkomröstning.
Jacques Chirac faces a testing vote on the EU constitution in the early summer
Since EU leaders agreed in December to begin membership negotiations with Turkey, the French political row over the possibility of ever admitting this big, poor and Muslim country has resumed. Mr Chirac has long been an advocate of admitting Turkey, mainly for strategic reasons. But even with Michel Barnier, his foreign minister, and Dominique de Villepin, his interior minister, in agreement, he is still in the minority. His prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, is against. So is Nicolas Sarkozy, the new head of his UMP party, along with most UMP members of parliament, and a majority of the French public, according to the polls. Mindful of this hostility, even Mr Chirac has begun to talk more cautiously about when Turkey might be ready.
Mr Chirac is now trying to sterilise the referendum on the constitution by removing any traces of the Turkish question. He has already promised a separate referendum on Turkish entry—when it is imminent, in 10-15 years' time. This week, his cabinet approved a change to the constitution that will oblige France to hold a referendum on any future expansion of the EU.
Med ett rungande "ja" gav de franska socialisterna, PS, sitt stöd till EU:s nya grundlag, vid sin interna omröstning på onsdagskvällen.
Med mer än 55 procent av medlemmarna bakom sig ställer sig därmed Frankrikes största oppositionsparti på samma sida som president Jacques Chirac och regeringen i kampen för ett ja i folkomröstningen nästa år.
- Tvärt emot EU-skeptikernas skräckpropaganda innebär den nya grundlagen verkliga demokratiska framsteg, framför allt på det sociala området, sade Martin Schulz, ledare för den socialdemokratiska gruppen i EU-parlamentet.
Britter och svenskar har ett viktigt gemensamt Europaintresse,
On Wednesday, the Socialist party, which forms the chief opposition to the government, will vote on whether the party should campaign for or against the constitutional treaty in the national referendum that Jacques Chirac, the president of France, has called for next year. The result could have momentous consequences for the Socialist party, for France, and for Europe.
Charles de Gaulle, the former French president and one of the chief architects of postwar France, was clear about the role Europe should play in his country's designs. He argued that Europe should act as a lever for France, multiplying the nation's influence in the world and creating an alternative power centre to the US. For several decades, the economic and political incarnation of Europe largely fulfilled that function. The Franco-German alliance proved the driving force behind the creation of the institutions that form today's European Union. France's national influence, in economic, social and trade policy, has undoubtedly been magnified as a result.
But France is, perhaps belatedly, waking up to the realisation that the Europe it helped create is changing fast and that Paris is losing its once dominant grip over the EU. Partly, this is the result of simple arithmetic. In a Union of 25 member states, France's influence is inevitably weaker. Partly, it is the result of Germany becoming more assertive in pursuing national interests following the country's unification.
Laurent Fabius, the party's deputy leader and former prime minister, and other prominent Socialists have been campaigning vigorously against it. Mr Fabius argues that France's vision of Europe has been betrayed. Instead of deepening the ties between its member states and developing Europe's social dimension, the EU has developed à l'anglaise and become too liberal, diffuse and spineless. "A Yes is a renunciation, albeit involuntarily, of the good intentions and the grand idea of a European power. A No creates the possibility of a rebound," he argues in his campaign book, A Certain Idea of Europe.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the French Socialist Party's most senior figures, has warned of the possible "breakdown of Europe" if his party's members reject the European Union's constitutional treaty in an internal vote next week.
The No campaign in the Socialist Party has been spearheaded by Laurent Fabius, the former prime minister, who has argued that Europe is becoming too economically liberal.
"If the European Union hopes to play its part, it should take responsibility for the whole of the zone from which its culture and civilisation originated: the north of Europe as well as the Mediterranean. I cannot see it lasting in setting up a sort of barrier in the Strait of Gibraltar and in the Bosphorus," he said. His comments came a day after Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, called for the EU to limit links with Turkey to a "privileged partnership".
Mr Chirac and Mr Sarkozy embody two quite different and competing ideas about the future of France. Mr Chirac is a neo-Gaullist conservative who believes that French power should be projected through a strong Europe, built on the Franco-German axis and forming a counterbalance to the United States.
IN THE summer of 1975, at a party congress in Nice, an energetic and ambitious young French centre-right prime minister introduced to the packed auditorium an equally energetic and ambitious centre-right party youth member. The 20-year-old student had travelled on the overnight train, and had written his first political speech on a single sheet of paper. The prime minister warned him to speak for no more than five minutes. Defiant, intoxicated by the applause, he went on for 20. The prime minister was Jacques Chirac. The young hack was Nicolas Sarkozy.
On November 28th, at a stage show outside Paris, Mr Sarkozy will be declared the overwhelming winner of an election to head the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the ruling party and the descendant of the one Mr Chirac launched a year after the Nice congress. Mr Sarkozy succeeds Alain Juppé, Mr Chirac's preferred heir, who in January was found guilty—pending appeal—of political corruption. The man Mr Chirac most distrusts is about to get his hands on the party the president created.
Fransk revolution mot EU-fördraget
France should hold a referendum on whether to allow Turkey into the EU, according to French finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
The German Christian Democrat Party appears to be suffering an internal split over the Turkish issue. The leader of Germany's centre-right opposition party, Angela Merkel, earlier this month wrote to other centre-right leaders in the EU in a bid to block Turkey's full membership of the EU, offering instead a "privileged partnership". Chairman of the German Parliament’s foreign affairs committee Volker Rühe has however criticised the party’s leader Angela Merkel of being out of step with the majority in Europe.
France searches for its place in a wider Union
A chief architect of so many of Europe's big innovations, from the single market to the euro, Paris these days is having trouble winning sympathy for its initiatives. Add to that recent discordant outbursts with European partners over issues ranging from Iraq to industrial policy, and France is looking increasingly isolated. . Nicolas Bavarez, who shook the intellectual establishment last year with his book "France in Free Fall," says the situation has worsened in the past 12 months.
Is France really in terminal decline?
Former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius is drifting towards a firm rejection of the Constitution
However, Mr Fabius appears to have since hardened his position, drifting towards a clear "no". In a much quoted comment over the weekend, he said, "I find nothing in this text that would allow for a change of policy in the field of jobs and fight against the moving of jobs abroad ... my natural inclination ... is therefore to vote no".
And the leading lights of the Socialist party appear to be aligning themselves behind the two men. Acccording to Le Nouvel Observateur, 25 leading Socialists have pronounced for a "yes", including Pervenche Bérès (leading French MEP and Chair of the European Parliament's Economics Committee) and former Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine. The "no" corner includes one MEP (André Laignel) and several members of the Socialist national bureau.
Another leading Socialist, former Presidential candidate Lionel Jospin, has yet to pronounce either way. Some 40 percent of the Socialist Party's membership is estimated to be opposed to the Constitution.
Redan i dag står det klart att, förutom Frankrike, låter Danmark, Irland, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spanien och Storbritannien väljarna ta ställning. I Belgien, Nederländerna, Polen och Tjeckien talar mycket för en folkomröstning.
Även om politikerna gör sitt bästa för att engagera väljarna och undviker allt vad von oben-attityd heter kan de inte komma ifrån själva sakfrågan: konstitutionen.
Erfarenheterna av folkomröstningar visar att väljarnas känslospröt snabbt registrerar intellektuell ohederlighet och falsk retorik. När nu allt fler av Europas ledare lägger sina öden i folkets händer innebär det ett stort chanstagande. Vi har en lång resa framför oss men i dag framstår ett, kanske flera, nej som den troligaste utgången.
Philippe de Villiers is a French rebel with a cause. He breaks
a general taboo among respectable politicians in France. He says boldly that
"the Europe of Brussels is an anti-democratic dictatorship".
European Press Review: Beginning of the End for Jacques
The Libération in Paris agrees that French voters obviously want a political change. President Jacques Chirac needs to respond to that demand through his actions and in whom he chooses to help him govern. Whatever choices he makes, though, the paper thinks this could be the beginning of the end of the Chirac era.
Jacques Delors: Asked if he puts the chances of the effective
collapse of the EU as high as 50%, he replies simply:
Mr Delors's anxiety also reflects a peculiarly French worry about enlarging the Union from its present membership of 15 countries to 25 in May, with more coming. The French elite has become used to dominating the Union, never more so than in the heyday of Mr Delors, and it is clearly anxious that enlargement could spell an end to this happy arrangement. The elite's anxieties have transmitted themselves to the general public; opinion polls show stronger hostility to EU enlargement in France than in any of the other 14 member countries.
France is facing the problem that dare not speak its name. Though French law prohibits the census from any reference to ethnic background or religion, many demographers estimate that as much as 20-30 per cent of the population under 25 is now Muslim.
The streets, the traditional haunt of younger people, now belong to Muslim youths. In France, the phrase "les jeunes" is a politically correct way of referring to young Muslims. Given current birth rates, it is not impossible that in 25 years France will have a Muslim majority.
The consequences are dynamic: is it possible that secular France might become an Islamic state? The situation is not dissimilar elsewhere in the EU. Europeans may at some young point in the 21st century have to decide whether they wish to retain the diluted but traditional Judaeo-Christian culture of their minority or have it replaced by the Islamic culture of the majority.
UK was right not to join flawed euro, admits Jacques Delors
Europe can trust in France's support
At the last European Union summit in Brussels, we failed to agree on the constitutional treaty. But we have not lost hope of giving the EU's 450m citizens a constitutional pact.
For France, Europe is first and foremost a state of mind, a community of souls whose aim, since the Enlightenment, has been the quest for happiness and justice.
Europe has put people at the heart of its political project and achieved the goal of peace.
For France, a wider Europe has always implied a deeper Europe. We know from experience the hurdles on the way to better European governance - the temptation to take the federalist route, the potential drift towards bureaucracy, the marathon haggling at summits. But I have not forgotten the successes: the monetary system with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, European democracy with Simone Veil and the single market with Jacques Delors. I am not saying that the French have built Europe, but Europe has always attracted French talent.
The genuinely substantive German-French relationship can act as a beacon for those wishing to strengthen co-operation: with the UK in defence, with Poland in promoting the "Weimar Triangle", and with the eurogroup in finding a better way to link stability and growth within the pact.
We must also improve the stability pact, which is still too insensitive to economic cycles. We need to place budgetary discipline in a more ambitious economic context. I am keen to see a remodelled pact that takes greater account of reforms that are improving the long-term viability of our public finances. I want it to reflect spending that prepares for the future, especially research funding.
I am also calling on those with the authority to speak for Europe to point out the damage wrought by the instability of the dollar and euro exchange rates. This instability is good for no one. Together, we must find ways of securing parities that are more compatible with economic reality.
Europe's responsibility is to serve Europeans - hence France's support for the ITER fusion project, for sustainable growth, for the fight against deindustrialisation, and for trans-European communication networks.
Responsibility towards the world means building new Euro-American relations, based on a dialogue between equals and on common ambitions for the world.
It also means developing a human vision of globalisation, making cultural diversity, democracy, development aid and the fight against epidemics EU priorities.
Europe must also play a greater role in protecting our planet through the proposed World Environment Organisation, which builds on the Kyoto Protocol.
I Frankrike lever stundom
föreställningen kvar att landets stormaktsstatus skall garanteras
genom ett europeiskt samarbete.
Tyskland som länge var den aktiva motorn i samarbetet utgör i dag en passiviserande broms. Men det fransk-tyska samarbetet tycks också gynnas av tämligen osannolik personligt vänskap. Socialdemokraten Schröder och högerpresidenten Chirac verkar trivas lika bra tillsammans som företrädarna Kohl och Mitterand. Den brittiske premiärministern Tony Blair inbjuds då och då till gemensamma frukostar. Men axeln mellan Berlin och Paris utvecklas inte till någon triangel där också London inkluderas.
Euroländernas finansministrar nådde tidigt på
tisdagsmorgonen en kompromiss som kan avvärja den hotande krisen kring
Tysklands och Frankrikes budgetunderskott.
Sedan franske finansministern Francis Mer lovat att komma med
nya åtgärder har straffproceduren
France has avoided sanctions over its breach of eurozone
Jacques Chirac ended two days of intense but fruitless talks
with France's main political leaders yesterday still facing one of the most
painful dilemmas of his long political career: whether or not to call a
referendum to ratify Europe's new constitution.
The French president is not opposed to a national vote on the issue, and has said he will not make his mind up until a final text is agreed. But he knows that holding a referendum on Europe could prove his biggest blunder since the disastrous early dissolution of parliament in 1997. The political class in France is deeply and unhappily split over the European constitution drawn up by the former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and now being debated in Brussels.
The Franco-German monster
France on Tuesday reacted defiantly to a European Commission
compromise proposal that would allow the rogue nation of the eurozone's public
finances to escape an automatic fine for its breach of EU budget rules.
As expected, Brussels conceded France an extra year - until 2005 - to bring its budget deficit below the 3 per cent of GDP ceiling set by the EU's stability and growth pact. But its demand that France curb its deficit in 2004 by an additional 0.4 per cent brought a frosty response from the French finance ministry. It said the government would not "call into question the global balance of the 2004 budget by introducing 6bn ($7bn, £4.2bn) of supplementary measures, which would be destabilising".
France misses deficit deadline
France is on a collision course with the European Union over its refusal to comply with budget rules governing the 12 nation eurozone. The country had until midnight on Friday to tell its EU partners how it intended to curb its ballooning deficit if it wants to avoid the threat of hefty fines. But as the deadline passed, France showed little sign of complying with the EU's demands.
The EC made clear this week that the budget recently unveiled by France did not comply with EU demands that its deficit come in below 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The EU executive is expected to draw up detailed budget recommendations for France - the toughest sanction ever attempted against a country - in an effort to safeguard the euro.
French President Jacques Chirac told the conference that, while
not perfect, the draft should be accepted fairly much as it is.
Time was, Europe served as a useful device for French politicians. It enabled them to impose unpopular reformsprivatisation, energy liberalisation, cuts to farm subsidiesin the name of a popular, greater European, good. But an increasingly prickly relationship between France and the European Commission has begun to produce an uncomfortable sensation: is French Euroscepticism on the rise?
The immediate cause of the spat with the commission turns on the government's budget deficit for 2004. In the budget unveiled last week by Francis Mer, the finance minister, France plans in 2004 to exceed the 3% limit imposed by the European Union's stability pact for the third year running, this time reaching 3.6%. Despite scolding, France says it will not make further changes to bring the deficit into line by October 3rd, as requested by European finance ministers. They must then decide whether to start the procedure for punishing France, which could end in a fine.
The irritation in Brussels is palpable: the French understanding of rules, goes a widespread feeling, is that they apply to everybody else.
President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic has already
chilled the mood by refusing to attend today's ceremonial launch, and slamming
the draft text as a blueprint for a European super-state.
Ser ni inte dramat på kontinenten?
France has admitted that its budget deficit this year will be
4% of gross domestic product - a level way above Brussels rules on fiscal
The French jobless rate had risen to 9.6%
last month, from June's figure of 9.5%.
Frankrike skapar svängrum på
Redan tycker vissa länder att EMU-kostymen är för trång. Uppluckrade villkor försvagar dock valutan och vältrar över bördor på andra. Mitt i den svenska EMU-kampanjens slutskede kommer nya rapporter om spänningar inom eurozonen. Frankrike bryter mot stabilitetspakten genom att tillåta för stora budgetunderskott under en period på minst 3-4 år. Tyskland följer i spåren. Frankrike, Tyskland och flera andra euroländer har ekonomiska problem. Tillväxten är låg, ja rentav negativ. Arbetslösheten växer. Ohållbara pensionssystem är en bomb men reformer möter protester.
Man kan förstås diskutera om de existerande reglerna med mått för budgetunderskott och statsskuld är de mest relevanta. Vissa anser att till exempel tak för offentliga utgifter är lika viktigt. Någon typ av regler måste dock finnas. Hade Frankrike och Tyskland haft kvar francs eller mark skulle de egna valutorna utsatts för tryck. Stora och kontinuerliga budgetunderskott som skapar mer pengar riskerar att försvaga valutan. Räntehöjningar blir då ett sätt att betala marknaden för högre valutarisk. Nu ingår Frankrike och Tyskland i eurozonen. Hela zonen har samma valuta och centralbanksränta. Valuta- och räntekostymen skall passa alla. När Frankrike vill töja ut sin kostymärm genom upprepade budgetunderskott skapar man svängrum på andras bekostnad. Alternativet är att alla EMU-länder gör på samma sätt.
Romano Prodi, European Commission president, will back a tough
line against France and any other member that continue to flout the eurozone's
budget deficit rules
France is set to become the first
country of the eurozone to admit it will breach the rules of the stability and
growth pact, by exceeding budget limits in three consecutive years.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French prime minister, will on Wednesday tell Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, that France's budget deficit for this year is worse than expected. Internal government estimates, to be made public next month, indicate that it will also exceed eurozone limits in 2004.
France is set to become the first country of the eurozone to admit it will breach the rules of the stability and growth pact, by exceeding budget limits in three consecutive years.
Mr Raffarin will on Wednesday explain how France's deficit will hit at least 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product in 2003, a notch above the latest estimate of 3.6 per cent announced in June. Government sources now fear a deficit of as much as 3.9 per cent. France's own projections for 2004 will be published on September 24 in the 2004 draft budget.
France risks a penalty, under which it may have to pledge a 4bn deposit. According to the Maastricht Treaty, a country has one year to come back within the 3 per cent limit after it has breached the ceiling.
Germany is also widely expected to face sanctions for the same reasons, but the government of Gerard Schröder, German chancellor, is not expected to reveal its latest budget estimates before November. In his meeting with Mr Prodi, Mr Raffarin will plead for an easing of the stability pact rules, which he accuses of throttling the eurozone's growth in a difficult economic environment.
Nu får den Hitlervänliga
Vichyregimen i Frankrike fungera som ett argument mot svensk
övergång till euron.
Bernard Connolly blev känd som EU-tjänstemannen som skrev boken "The Rotten Heart of Europe" för att protestera mot planerna på EMU, med påföljd att han avskedades. Detta inträffade 1995-96 och väckte stort uppseende. Nu har Bernard Connolly, som i dag är chefsstrateg vid AIG Trading Group i London, gjort sitt inträde i den svenska eurodebatten.
På ett seminarium anordnat av det borgerliga nätverket Medborgare mot EMU gick han till våldsam attack mot EU-kommissionens förre ordförande Jacques Delors, som anklagades för att ha dragit upp planerna på euron i syfte att avskaffa demokratin.
- Han sade själv att avsikten var att skapa en politisk och militär superstat. Meningen med EMU var att låta makten gå över till byråkrater och experter, som inte kan utmanas eller granskas, hävdade Bernard Connolly.
Ett sådant system finns det, enligt honom, mäktiga intressen som önskar. Det gäller även i Sverige där man i många borgerliga kretsar resonerar på ett uppgivet sätt, liknande tongångarna i Frankrike på 1930-talet:
- Låt andra fatta besluten åt oss, säger man. I Frankrike ledde det till att man lät Tyskland bestämma. Samma franska inställning levde sedan kvar under 1950-, 60- och 70-talen, framhöll Connolly.
Vid Medborgare mot EMU:s seminarium talade även Sean Gabb, forskare vid University of North London. Han betonade att det är helt osannolikt med en brittisk övergång till euron. Det beror inte enbart på att en bred folkmajoritet är emot och att beslutet ska föregås av folkomröstning:
- Stämningen mot euron skulle finnas kvar, även efter ett eventuellt beslut att gå över till euron. Många människor skulle inte acceptera det, utan försöka motverka förändringen genom civil olydnad. Det ligger inte i politikernas intresse att få så mycket bråk, förklarade Sean Gabb hotfullt.
Margit Gennser, ordförande i Medborgare mot EMU och tidigare moderat riksdagsledamot, uttrycker sig avvaktande om vad Connollly och Gabb sagt:
- Det är viktigt att lära av historien, men man kan dra olika slutsatser. Lars Tobisson i moderaterna tillhörde dem som tyckte att trycket att förändra Sverige måste komma utifrån. Men om etablissemanget drar i väg för långt från väljarna kan det uppstå revolutionära stämningar där fattade beslut inte åtföljs, sade hon.
EU:s statistiska centralbyrå, Eurostat, kommer sannolikt att tvingas att rapportera ett BNP-minus för EU-blocket under perioden april-juni i år. Det blir följden av att Frankrike - EU:s tredje största ekonomi efter Tyskland och Storbritannien - noterat ett oväntat svagt andra kvartal.
Beskedet från den franska statistikmyndigheten Insee bidrog till att ytterligare fördystra bilden av det ekonomiska läget inom EMU-blocket. Både Tyskland och Italien har nyligen rapporterat minustillväxt för såväl första som andra kvartalet i år. Enligt de tumregler som brukar användas befinner sig därmed de båda länderna i en recession.
Och nu har det alltså också vänt neråt i Frankrike, som tidigare haft en bättre ekonomisk tillväxt än de andra stora EMU-länderna ända sedan 1997. I fjol noterade exempelvis Frankrike en BNP-ökning på 1,2 procent mot 0,2 procent i Tyskland och 0,4 procent i Italien.
Den kraftiga förstärkningen av euron - som gått upp med 16 procent gentemot dollarn under det senaste året - har slagit hårt mot den franska exporten och därmed mot hela ekonomin. Det har bidragit till att läget på arbetsmarknaden försämrats ytterligare. I juni nådde den öppna arbetslösheten 9,5 procent.
Konjunkturfallet kommer också att leda till ännu större bekymmer för den franska regeringen som just nu försöker pussla ihop en budget som skall klara EMU:s stabilitetskrav med ett budgetunderskott som uppgår till högst 3 procent av BNP.
Recession gripped Germany, Italy and the Netherlands
"Jeg var måske lidt naiv"
The stability pact needs to be "modernised and whipped into
French President Jacques Chirac has reopened the debate on the
EU's Stability and Growth Pact
There's a clear sense that France and Germany are moving
side by side on economic co-ordination, says a French official. If so, no
need to worry too much about penalties for breaching the stability pact.
Göran Persson är Frankrikes man
EMU är i gungning
A contemptible deal
Mini-summit on April 29. The leaders of Belgium, France,
Germany and Luxembourg will discuss the creation of a European defence union.
The pro-Chirac L'Express magazine, for example, commented recently that though one could certainly criticise the way America and Britain had chosen to go to war, and though George Bush's messianic imperialism was disturbing, it was also true that the anti-Americanism gaining ground in Europe and encouragingacross the worldour diplomacy of pacifism will have serious consequences: we have assumed the responsibility of breaking the unity of the democratic world and of relying on allies who share little of our values. In short, we have deliberately chosen to split our natural base and to cosy up to countries that do not belong to it. Why?
This /Iraq/ war shows the need to construct a united Europe
Edith Cresson has become the first former Commissioner to be
charged with corruption.
upplösningen griper omkring sig.
Defiant France rules out austerity
Jacques Chirac, has strongly criticised EU Agriculture
Commissioner, Franz Fischler, for his "obstinacy"
over the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy
Det enade Europa
France's economic ties
politik är billigt effektsökeri
Chirac sees a united Europe as a
necessary counterweight to the American hegemon.
Storm clouds are gathering over
Fransmännen började oroa sig för att de
proamerikanska och frihandelsvänliga britterna skulle bestämma
dagordningen. Man kan nästan höra hur ropen ekade mellan Berlins
väggar: Achtung, Engländer!
The German European Commissioner Günter Verheugen and his
French colleague Pascal Lamy have called for
a Franco-German federation.
France has raised its budget deficit forecast
for 2002 to 2.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), one day after the European
Commission issued the country with an "early warning" over its existing
France faces rebuke over budget
France defiant over budget
"Röde Danny" (Cohn-Bendit)
vill att Europa blir USA:s motpol
Inte större underskott än tre procent av BNP, bruttonationalprodukten, får det bli. Blir underskottet större måste medlemsstaten göra något åt det. Sådan är överenskommelsen. Flera medlemsstater klarar inte att hålla treprocentgränsen och har också fått varningar för detta samt fått lova att göra något åt saken.
Värst har det blivit för Portugal, som både fått anmärkning från EU-kommissionen och EU-kollegerna och satt i gång ett åtstramningsprogram. Det senare svider hårt i ett av EU:s fattigare länder. Också det forna ekonomiska loket Tyskland har misslyckats, varnats och utfäst sig att göra något för att hålla sig till de överenskomna reglerna.
Så icke Frankrike alltså.
- Att strama åt budgeten i det här läget är fel, det gör vi bara inte, lyder budskapet från den franske regeringschefen Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Sannolikt kommer därför det franska budgetunderskottet också i år att överskrida 3 procent. Därmed utmanar han EMU-reglerna.
Och det må vara. Premiärminister Raffarin har förvisso rätt när han pekar på att en åtstramning i form av höjda skatter, minskade utgifter, magrare bidrag på kort sikt inte skulle göra gott i det ekonomiska stillastående som nu råder.
RE: Det låter som s.k. "förlegad Keynesianism"
Men det är en sak att reglerna inte är de bästa och att de därför kan behöva ändras, en annan att förklara att man inte tänker följa dem.
Two new books by French authors, one at the top of the best-seller list, the other described as a work of exceptional scholarship, are confronting the French with the proposition that their anti-Americanism is a self-inflicted national illness.
For one of the authors, the anti-Americanism of the French is a willful delusion, an attempt by a dominant political and intellectual caste to mask its own failures and insignificance.
For the other, French anti-Americanism is a centuries-old tradition - a layered accumulation of condescension and fear, vastly more significant than the French gift of a Statue of Liberty to the United States or the assistance of a Marquis de Lafayette - and a rare terrain in French national life where conflicting political and intellectual forces can find common ground.
Both books distinguish French anti-Americanism from normal criticism of the United States as pushing criticism beyond the rational to a level of virulence where it essentially defines French problems and inadequacies while undermining France's capacity to make its way in the world.
For a study that insists on what the author calls a profoundly French malaise inherent in French anti-Americanism - an essentially contrarian concept here - Philippe Roger's book, "L'Ennemi americain," has been received with exceptional praise. Le Monde described it as "a chef d'oeuvre of semantic history" and Le Nouvel Observateur said it was a "masterly" analysis of a French tradition that reflects a combination of stupidity, ignorance, and paranoia.
Jean-Francois Revel's "L'Obsession anti-americaine" has been rewarded with the number 1 place on the nonfiction best-seller list. The writer, the single right-of-center pillar of French intellectual life known outside the country, argues that anti-Americanism in Europe and particularly in France is so reflexive, even when the United States is right, that it has resulted in the Americans' no longer paying any attention to criticism even when it is reasonable.
From Berlin, Brussels and other European capitals, the message going to the French government this week could scarcely have been louder or clearer.
I EU kan ingen
höra dig skrika (Le Pen)
Explaining Le Pen's success
French political leaders have rallied behind Jacques Chirac to make sure he trounces Jean-Marie Le Pen, the extreme right-winger who stunned France by winning a place in the presidential run-off next month. Mr Le Pen's success has sent an earthquake through European politics
FRANCE is still struggling to understand the implications of Jean-Marie Le Pen's unexpected success in winning a place in the second round of the country's presidential elections. The long-time gadfly of the extreme right has no doubt about the meaning of his success on Sunday April 21st. He describes himself as the candidate of the French people against the candidate of the system. We are witnessing the toppling of a decadent, corrupt and ossified political system. Many of his opponents might agree with him, at least about that.
Framgången för Jean-Marie Le Pen i det franska presidentvalet har ställt det mesta på huvudet. Förfärade och förundrade frågar sig människor i och utanför Frankrike vad det var som hände.
I ett slag har Frankrikes politiska framtoning blivit en annan. Underströmmen av missnöje med utvecklingen mot en öppnare värld, hårdare konkurrens och rörliga folkströmmar har förenats med liknöjdheten. När uppfattningen att min röst inget betyder förenas med inställningen att de etablerade politikerna är av samma skrot och korn och mest ute efter att hunsa och skinna den vanlige väljaren, bildas en vådlig förening. Det är den som skickat fram Jean-Marie Le Pen till en förstaplansroll.
Pen, product of the EU Daily Telgraph editorial, 23/04/2002)
wooed voters with anti-immigrant line
Despite critics' charges that his name is a byword for bigotry and bullying, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a 73-year-old former paratrooper, has led his National Front party from virtually nowhere - 0.74 percent of the vote in 1974 - to a stunning success Sunday with appeals to voters' fears about crime and immigration.
Although the National Front split into two rival movements four years ago, Le Pen won public support with his tough talk about law and order, violence, immigration and the expansion of Islam in France.
EU tycks glömma Europas historia
A conservative tide is sweeping Europe
Commissioners speak of Franco-German
Giscard demands large salary
for EU work
Chirac hit by
France and Germany
back EU constitution
Giscard dEstaing favour a
EU with federal powers
European commissioners Günter Verheugen and Pascal Lamy on Monday debated the idea of a Franco-German confederation, as a core of deeper European integration. Speaking at the Goethe Institute on the Franco-German relations and the future of Europe, the two commissioners discussed the principles of a Franco-German confederation, with a common army, common embassies in third countries, and a common seat at the United Nations Organisation as core elements.
The French and German commissioners, both socialists, also pointed out how important it was for the health of the EU that the Franco-German relationship delivers. "The Franco-German couple is the matrix for compromise in the European Union, the forerunner for important compromises. And this is not because they tend to agree on many issues: on the contrary, they have many divergent interests, but they have the political good will to reach compromise," commissioner Lamy said.
France is not the only country that is confused about the European Union of the future. But its loss of conviction matters more than most. For 40 years France has shaped the Union. Think of the Commission bureaucracy, the common agricultural policy or monetary union. Over the past decade French dominance has been diluted by EU enlargement and challenged by a Germany keen to assert itself.
Having long believed in a Europe built in France's image, the French no longer recognise the Union when they see it. That is the uncharacteristically blunt message from Pascal Lamy, the EU's trade commissioner, and Jean Pisani- Ferry, an economic adviser to the prime minister. In a refreshing report, they call for a radical reassessment of national interests.
France is not only fighting losing battles. Maintaining the cultural exception, preserving the CAP and maintaining at all costs the parity of influence with Germany are yesterday's wars. The French stance is overwhelmingly defensive. The French in general, and the left in particular, are uncomfortable with the liberal direction of European economic policy even though it has greatly benefited France.
The prospect of enlargement only deepens the sense of angst. It will accelerate the demise of the CAP, bring in pro-American states that are still enthusiastic for free markets, and further dilute French influence. The Paris elite has begun to question the consensus in favour of reuniting the continent.
There are legitimate concerns about organised crime, corruption and the ability of the new members to survive in the single market. Above all, there is the need to adapt the EU's institutions so that they do not seize up. But blocking enlargement would create an unthinkable political crisis that could wipe out the achievements of the last 40 years.
France is in danger of replacing Britain as Europe's most awkward member. It must not sulk on the sidelines. It must generate a positive agenda. Its influence depends on the strength of its ideas and not on its ability to hatch a deal with Germany.
There is a good chance that this year's elections will return a president and prime minister of the same political hue. The rivalries of cohabitation have distorted France's EU policy. If a united French government can articulate a coherent idea of Europe, France can regain the initiative.
Monday's report marks the first signs of new thinking in Paris in a long time. If the ideas are reflected in the forthcoming election campaign, they will help bring France out of its present cul de sac.
July 12th 2001 From The Economist print edition
THE late Enoch Powell, a learned and provocative English Tory, liked to say that British foreign policy now consisted in finding out what the United States was going to want of Britain, and doing it in advance. It has often seemed as if the opposite were true of France. Charles de Gaulle, Frances leader from 1958-69, took pride in exasperating American presidents, starting with Franklin Roosevelt. French politicians since have continued the local tradition of twitching Uncle Sams beard.
The favour is returned. When in June last year Hubert Védrine, the French foreign minister, declined to join more than 100 other nations in an American-inspired declaration of support for democracy, the New York Times headlined its report, At democracys picnic, Paris supplies ants. Mr Védrine had already gained a certain notoriety in the United States by describing it in 1998 as the worlds only hyperpower, a term which sounds more pejorative in English than in French and which offended some Americans.
So why have the clouds gathered this year over Mr Chiracs parade? Why are some politicians on the right, ostensibly his allies, muttering that he will lose to Lionel Jospin, the Socialist prime minister? Why do a few even muse that Mr Chirac may not put himself on the ballot paper?
The answer is that he faces an ever-rising tide of scandal. Over the past year Mr Chiracs name has been linked to illegal kickbacks on public-works contracts, the illicit financing of political parties, phoney jobs for party members and, in a burst of headlines last month, the use of taxpayers cashliterally, since airline tickets and hotel bills were paid for with bank-notesto buy foreign trips for himself and his family.
This week Frances now-relentless investigating judges began questioning former aides to the president, including his influential daughter, Claude, about the jaunts abroad. Next week they will, it is said, grill his wife. All that prevents the president himself being interrogated, even if only as a witness, is a lawyers stalemate. The presidents men invoke the constitution to say a president in office is above such things. The Paris prosecutor last week begged to disagree, but was this week contradicted by his superior on the Paris appeals court.
JUNE 6 2001
Han menade egentligen inget allvarligt, det bara blev så. Frankrikes premiärminister Lionel Jospin har avslöjats som f d trotskist. Saken har väckt stor uppmärksamhet eftersom Jospin har ljugit om sitt förflutna. Men vad kan man annat vänta av uppburna socialister? Kamrater på vänsterkanten hävdar nu att det var en ungdomssynd, och "vem har inte varit kommunist i sin ungdom"? Tja, de flesta har inte varit kommunist i sin ungdom, och ännu färre har ljugit om det, särskilt bland premiärministrar.
Man förstår dock varför. Jospins
medlemskap i en hårdför trotskistsekt var nämligen ingen
ungdomssynd, utan varade under täcknamnet Michel ända till 1987,
då han hade avancerat till en hög post inom socialistpartiet.
Infiltration är en trotskistisk arbetsmetod, som uppenbarligen fungerar
för tillträde även till de högsta av maktens boningar. Det
har aldrig varit rätt att vara trotskist, vare sig 1917 eller 1987.
Klas Eklund var
visar vägen, trots allt
Med sitt EU-tal markerade den franske premiärministern att han står för en sorts blandform mellan federalism och nationernas Europa. Egentligen vore federalism den enklaste vägen till ett mer demokratiskt Europa. Med en klart definierad överstatlig struktur skulle vi slippa dagens dunkla förhandlingsspel och byråkratvälde, där väljarna inte har någon möjlighet att utkräva ansvar för EU:s samlade politik utan bara för den egna regeringens agerande. Men det politiska stödet för en sådan lösning räcker inte till. Tyskland står isolerat. Det blir en blandform även i fortsättningen. Då har Lionel Jospins modell en fördel i det att den hakar fast byråkratin och ekonomin i de politiska strukturerna, ökar ansvarigheten och tillåter EU att ägna sig åt frågor som berör människor i deras vardag. Därmed skulle Jospins modell på litet sikt även kunna bidra till ett mer folkligt förankrat och demokratiskt Europa.
lesson: Harmony on integration and taxes means disharmony ahead
Frankrike spjärnar emot
Leader's Blueprint Sets Out a Socialist Europe
confirm worst fears of sceptics
election about Europe
Lionel Jospin's vision for the EU
Of course, this was the speech of a French socialist and it was directed in significant part at his domestic audience. Mr Jospin was setting out his stall for next year's presidential elections in France, presenting himself as both a committed European and a patriotic Frenchman. Like all his fellow European leaders, Mr Jospin's first focus is on his home constituency.
That explains much of what he would like to see among the functions of a future EU, including the vague idea of a European social treaty, a European industrial policy and a desire to curb what he calls "unfair tax competition". He also wants an "economic government of the euro-zone", with closer co-ordination of economic policies.
These are long-standing French ideas that have not hitherto won much support from other member states. They do not seem likely to do so now, even if they stir up an anxious debate in the overheated atmosphere of the UK election campaign.
More important is Mr Jospin's strong support for the idea of a "federation of nation states" as the future model for the EU, deliberately preserving the ambiguity inherent in its present structure.
It is a constructive ambiguity. The French premier wants to have both integrated European institutions and sovereign nation states - an idea he shares with Tony Blair, his British counterpart, Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, and Jacques Chirac, his own president.
The European Council (of heads of government) and the Council of Ministers remain at the heart of his constitutional vision. But he does want a stronger democratic role for the European parliament. He suggests that the majority group after elections should appoint the president of the European Commission. The Council would in turn have the power to dissolve the parliament, imposing a restraint on any frivolous abuse of parliamentary authority.
All these ideas, and others such as the need for a European constitution and a second parliamentary chamber, must be debated long and hard between now and 2004 - the deadline for the next EU reform. Any changes will inevitably be a compromise and must be approved unanimously. The essential thing is that the EU should become more accountable, more democratic and more effective, even after its membership doubles with enlargement. It is an ambitious agenda.
rejects federal EU plan
I dag kapitalism? (Lepage)
Jacques Chirac, not what he was
Go back a few days, to the evening of December 14th, and imagine
you are a political spin-doctor in the court of President Jacques Chirac. Your
man is about to face the television cameras, and you are understandably
nervous. For he is besieged by tales of corruption, queried even by fellow
conservatives, dogged by whispers that at 68 he is not as robust as he seems.
Enlargement presents a chance to put right
all that is wrong with the EU
Eurocrats are from Mars, Cosmocrats from Venus - By Dominique Moisi
New Books from France
Dakar is on the West African
coast and on the outbreak of the Second World War was used as a base by the
French Navy. After
the fall of France in the summer of 1940 the British government decided that
French ships would not be used by the German Navy.
was based on the hope that local French forces in Dakar would rally to de
Gaulle as soon as they saw the combined British and Free French fleet draw