The sequence is history : France and Germany have come together to advocate for a vision of solidarity of Europe, whose prosperity cannot be shared. But the game is not ended. The other 25 member States must in their turn take ownership of this shared vision. And in this sequence, the greater the time expected is the debut of the european Commission. It is she who must take the initiative in proposing Wednesday 27 may, a european economic recovery plan backed by the european budget in the long term (2021-2027).
Will she make hers the franco-German proposal of a fund of 500 billion euros of direct aid to enterprises and to the regions most affected ? She will reduce this figure ? Will she, in order to take account of the objections of the Dutch, Austrian, Swedish and Danish, prefer to mix and match these grants with loans, possibly subject to conditions ? The stakes are high, because behind this technique financial – loans or subsidies – these are two conceptions of Europe that clashed. Amélie de Montchalin, secretary of State for european Affairs, explains why it would be a mistake to ignore the franco-German proposal.
The Point : Should we expect a copy degraded compared to the ambition of the franco-German ?
Amélie de Montchalin : It is not necessary to see this franco-German initiative only for its budget, but as an initiative to "refondatrice" for Europe. We had a lot of discussions on how this crisis should make us go beyond what we are usually accustomed in constructing the european budget. No room here for disagreement and small stones that we walking away from this goal.
We propose a vision of Europe. Now, there is a second step : the european Commission must be at the height of the crisis and take responsibility. The Commission has a mandate in the treaties, promote the european interest. The goal should not be to find the median or the lowest common denominator between the member States. The franco-German proposal is, I repeat, much more than an agreement half-way between the German interests and the French. It is a vision of what must be Europe for 20 to 30 years to come in order to remain relevant in a world where great challenges such as the ecological transition of the climate to wait for us. This statement is in fact the starting point of a new Europe in the image of what was the Schuman declaration of 9 may 1950. This is the first time in a long time that France and Germany have drafted a narrative that is common, which is really european, that trace a path to a common destiny that is not just the meeting of their interests at a time. This story lays the groundwork for the need a real sovereignty and solidarity in europe.
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Why is this possible now and not in 2008, when the financial crisis has divided Europe between the North and the South ?
The nature of the health crisis is very different from the crisis of 2008. Today, this is not a crisis caused by a lack of reforms. It is a crisis triggered by an external element, the spread of a virus that requires us to all, at the same time, to take charge of our common destiny. Everyone makes the double conclusion, first, that we are extremely dependent on the outside, then that we are all interdependent on each other inside.
This interdependence of the internal market which is the bedrock of our prosperity, if we do not assume fully, become fragile. This concept of sovereignty in common, of european sovereignty, initiated by the president of the Republic, comes out reinforced by weaknesses in the european and the crisis of the sars coronavirus has been uncovered. However, no country has the means to go it alone. When chancellor Angela Merkel repeated that there was no" Germany strong in a weak Europe ", it is a reasoning that much has been pushed with the Germans, but also with all other member States.
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However, the netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, known as the " four frugal ", don't want to pay for Italy, Spain or France... That say to you ?
The country frugal are not on an island. The model exporter that is their strength, and their narrative "it is safe, competitive, and you have to reform yourself" does not stand up to analysis, because, whatever they say, they are dependent on the economic health of other european countries.
With Germany, it has been able to move on with the understanding that this interdependence is not a constraint but a strength. I invite the country's frugal to the awareness that we must go beyond a debate of numbers and financial engineering. I want to show that 70% of the industry of the netherlands is exported within the internal market. They can put all the money they want in their plan of stimulus spending, if they do not have suppliers and customers elsewhere in Europe, it will not work.
Another example are the Swedish : the various studies of the IMF, the Commission or the OECD are predicting a decline in the Swedish economy from 6% to 8% of GDP. Therefore, they will not have a recession much less important than the other Europeans because of their customers and their suppliers are in Europe... As a result, this interdependence, which is the source of our prosperity, it is necessary that it be done continue on as a force. Germany has understood that it must take its responsibilities. Chancellor Angela Merkel has clearly chosen this path.
The Dutch Prime minister, Mark Rutte, is in a position to be complicated in the netherlands : its government includes law eurosceptics, his parliamentary majority is hanging by a thread and it was in front of him a far-right that feeds off the discourse " we pay for those of the South." In addition, it has parliamentary elections next year. How can he accept the franco-German proposal ?
The negotiation is not complete. We share with the netherlands the same vision of the future of Europe. Simply, at the end, their conclusion is that Europe has need of loans and non-budgetary aid. I repeat : the recovery in the netherlands will not occur without the stimulus of european solidarity and the Prime minister Mark Rutte will need to be re-elected in an economy that is leaves. It was, of course, need a recovery, but it is not enough. Our major industrial sectors will not leave, the jobs of yesterday will be weakened and those of tomorrow will not exist if the prosperity is not shared in Europe.
It is necessary that we arrive, in the coming days, to demonstrate that what is at stake, this is not the national contribution of one or the other to the european budget, it is the vitality of the economic project, which has made us prosperous.
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The franco-German initiative also calls for creating a " Europe of health "...
In fact, the franco-German initiative is a Schuman declaration of health. We propose to constitute a set of medical stocks so that in the event of a crisis, a person may react to the detriment of the other. It is necessary that the research, the drugs, the medical facilities are at a minimum shared, or, in any case, as we know the situation of each so that in the event of difficulties, sharing of resources is possible quickly.
On the climate, our interdependence is needed there also as a highlight. No one will stop global warming all alone in his corner. When we say that we have to strengthen our goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2030, it is together. Otherwise, we will re-create distortions between us that will lead us to weaken each other. If nothing is done in a coordinated manner, one will be better mobility, the other on energy, but, in the end, it doesn't work.
Finally, the last part of the declaration of the franco-German talks to adapt the competition rules, the supervision of State aid, which also talks about social convergence, it is a point fundamental to our vision of the world. This crisis accelerates without doubt a process that the some and the others were in the process of conducting and goes well beyond a recovery plan of the economic cycle. This is what makes our identity and our sovereignty, the european face of the other.