We have been waiting so long for it, and apparently this is it.
Macron chose the symbols of La Sorbonne, of Athens and of Aachen to convey his visions and messages on Europe with passion. Mrs Merkel chose to make an interview to FAZ am Sonntag, a conservative newspaper, in order to convey a reassuring message to her CDU voters. And indeed they do not need to worry, Europe will continue to evolve slowly, slowly. No worry.
And to better flatter her conservative electorate the German Chancellor started her interview by immediately reciting the German holly credo :
– each member state is responsible for itself,
– solidarity between euro partners shall not end into a debt union, but should bring help for self-help,
– the French-Germany impulse does not change the fact that at the end all the European countries should agree and act together.
Only then could the German chancellor define her priorities for Europe, which are:
– A common foreign and defence policy,
– A common asylum and development policy,
– Stay economically strong and innovative.
Not many striking details on these 3-4 priorities, but well this is not the purpose of this type of communication. And we could say exactly the same of the various speeches of Emmanuel Macron on Europe.
Some points mentioned go in the right directions:
– The objective to reduce from 180 down to 30 the European weapons systems,
– develop a common defence strategic culture,
– have a single European seat at the UN,
– have less commissaries in the Commission,
– have an innovation budget beyond the normal EU budget.
Some points are disappointing:
– Mrs Merkel gives the impression that the innovation budget will be wasted in a search of a politically correct geographic convergence instead of putting our meagre means where it would help building a relevant innovation force to compete with the US and Chinese giants. We would have hoped that the disaster of the Lisbon strategy would have left some lessons in this respect. Apparently not.
– The principe of a European Monetary Fund is acted, which is already something important, but well, the profile drawn shows more an instrument to handle ends of crisis than to prevent them.
What is more disturbing is this bad feeling that we lack any reason to believe these steps would be really implemented. The constant reference to an intergovernmental governance, the reminder of the necessity of finding consensus, the importance of the opinions of the net payers, in one word the total absence of true European spirit is not reassuring.
Then you start thinking that you have been hearing about a common foreign policy since 1986, and that since we are 32 years later with the result that you know you just take mentally a meeting point in 2050…
And naturally Mrs Merkel is not alone, you have still in one ear the enthusiasm of one Macron, in the other one the threat of the new Italian government, then you raise your eyes from the newspaper and you start thinking, my goodness are these national state levels still really relevant? Didn’t they lose all their credibility? Do they really want to insist on underlining their pitiful limits? And then you start thinking that this would be a good timing for the civil society to push for the birth of a European Republic to handle the European maters that we would assign to Europe…
Did a new level of administration or legitimacy ever came without the noisy involvement of its future Citizens? If we want to shorten the global pain we might start willing to be involved.