But why would Europe be able to organize a common defense when it has allowed some selfish nationalism to burden the euro’s effectiveness for 20 years?

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), prepares to give her signature to be printed on euro banknotes in Frankfurt am Main on November 27, 2019.

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), prepares to give her signature to be printed on euro banknotes in Frankfurt am Main on November 27, 2019.

©© Daniel Roland/AFP

Feeling of priority

The topic of common defense has been mentioned again by some EU leaders. However, can we believe it is applicable, when topics such as monetary integration, one of the clearest European commitments, have been far from exempt from criticism over the past twenty years?

Atlantico: One of the clearest European commitments is, without a doubt, monetary integration. The Euro has been in place for 20 years now and is far from critical. To what extent have we allowed some nationalistic selfishness to infect the euro?

Bruno Age: I don’t know what it means to “take the euro”. There is no crisis in the euro. On the other hand, there is a monetary area, the eurozone, which is not perfect (as is the case to varying degrees of all monetary areas, including the dollar area), which sooner or later must be restructured, inevitably in pain. This is what we collectively could not do in the summer of 2015 with Greece.

Regarding “national selfishness”, again, what are we talking about? If one suggests that the euro is built on the German model and that the Germans have better managed the implications of the euro for their domestic economy, it sounds a bit short to me. It was up to us French to understand what the euro meant, in particular the absence of the possibility of devaluation. It was up to us not to allow the euro to be built like this. But for this, François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac and those around them had to be more competent.

Finally, let me say one simple thing: if the euro is to hold, the answer is not with the ECB. from the ability (in this case the inability) of France to keep its public accounts. For my part, I decided to leave the Budget Directorate of the Ministry of Finance in 2003 when then Prime Minister JP Raffarin declared militarily that France would not honor the Stability and Growth Pact. It was a strong sign: there is no desire to put public spending under pressure to fix the economy. After nearly 20 years, our public debt has doubled, our natural growth rate has fallen, our society is in shambles, and our public services (school, justice, police) are in tatters. It is not the fault of the euro or the fault of Germany. We choose the rulers.

Once again the topic of European defense was mentioned by some EU leaders. If countries do not succeed in creating a truly efficient monetary area, could it otherwise be a matter of European defense?

European defense is an increasingly important topic… within the Paris Ring Road. No serious person in Europe would imagine a European defence. On the other hand, with the war in Ukraine, there is awareness – belated, insufficient, etc. – The geopolitical weakness of Europe, especially in Germany and the Nordic countries. This will happen – whether we regret it or not – by strengthening the European pillar of NATO, not by European defence.

Moreover, there is a clear contradiction in this matter. France is, in fact, right, by virtue of its history, its geopolitical, diplomatic and military responsibilities: the world is dangerous, and the European Union, wanting to be just a free market, is doomed to be prey to the powers that be taking charge. themselves. But France is not credible.

Firstly because the current President of the Republic, the last representative of a political line that includes Bill Clinton, Tony Blair or Pascal Lamy, is a modern convert to Islam, and has built himself entirely against ideas of sovereignty and power. These thoughts, he discovered, as on the way to Damascus, he had to put on the uniform of an army chief, and he claims, with all drunken shame, that he always promoted them.

Then, more fundamentally, because within the European Union, which is an economic organization by nature, our partners look at us first and foremost through our economy. Not our army, not our diplomacy. However, if our military and diplomacy are, in fact, the best in Europe, after the departure of the United Kingdom, which we insist not understand the catastrophe it is for the European Union – which casts a strange light on the desire to abolish the diplomatic corps – none of our partners is prepared to understand this And even less than admit it.

To what extent would the EU have an interest in correcting the eurozone’s problems first before embarking on a project the size of European defense? What are the most important issues to be settled with the eurozone?

The EU works like Mao’s revolution, which said that if it does not advance it will fall. It is clear that it is necessary to take a break in the integration of society (expansion and deepening), and attention to the eurozone. But for this many conditions are not met.

The first condition: that the countries of the European Union, especially the south, including France, reform their economies and restore order in their public finances. The message of Messrs. Macron, Sanchez and Draghi is clear: there is no doubt about it, let’s do more debt!

The second condition: that the European institutions, especially the Commission, regain their role. Instead of implementing the Stability and Growth Pact, what is the Commission doing? Von der Leyen explains to us that Ukraine, with a population of about 45 million, is deeply corrupt, and whose GDP per capita is more than double that of Bulgaria, the poorest country in the European Union, should join as a matter of urgency .

This European Union is doomed to decline.

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