Stanley's blog

Jacques Delors, in Alternatives Economiques, has produced an absorbing analysis of the current problems facing European integration.

He rightly attributes the lack of interest in Europe of public opinion to the fading of memory as to the original aims of reconciliation, solidarity, freedom and the end to war.

He identifies three reasons for the lack of progress. First, the erosion of the original beliefs, “…there is no future for communities without a memory of the past”. Second, the widening of the Union before deepening. Third, the return of nationalist attitudes due to the impression that we have lost control to globalisation.

Delors highlights three failures: the lack of economic union, institutional weaknesses, and the failure to use enhanced cooperation.

Economic and financial integration is too far ahead of the way things operate politically and institutionally. There is insufficient macro-economic policy coordination.

The Union is inefficient in its regular tasks of taking decisions and making them. “The last thing heads of state think of when they get up in the morning is Europe.”

Without some Member States going ahead without the others, says Delors, there would have been no euro and no Schengen. This should be done in building a European Energy Community and a common foreign policy.

Comment

If the new Commission does not press for this, let’s hope that the new Parliament will. Or better still, France and Germany. Relations between the two pivotal Member States have not been good, partly because Sarkozy and Merkel don’t enjoy the personal relationships of their predecessors. However, in early April the French Under- Secretary of State for EU Affairs, Bruno Le Maire, announced that France and Germany had agreed closely to coordinate their economic policies and lay the foundations of an EU industrial policy. This statement has not since been watered down in Paris or Berlin. This would be an important development, anticipating progress in the ‘E’ of EMU.

According to Le Maire, industrial policy requires a competition policy that will support the establishment of European champions in key industries; that encourages the birth of European industrial giants; and applying the principle of reciprocity externally.

Many will disagree with Le Maire’s ideas for an industrial policy and they have not so far been endorsed by either the French or German governments.

The Franco-German axis and enhanced cooperation should be encouraged, neither being to the exclusion of other Member States.

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  1. Stanley, on French German industrial policy: a key topic indeed

    I agree with your comments, and would add:

    – the EU has practiced industrial policy for a long time:
    – first in agriculture (!) and then steel, without spelling its name out
    – more widely and openly since this Commission. That is why Germany insisted on the industry & competitiveness portfolio for Verheughen (and now talks of a German ‘Wirtschaftskommissar’)
    – German French efforts at ‘meccano industriel’ have had some successes and many failures, typically they facilitated sector liberalisation (think telecom, energy, militaetc) but did not outlast this process
    – French German efforts should be seen in an EU context indeed, as initiators of wider efforts, more private sector led.
    French attempts to twist competition policy will be resisted…more weakly if a) they are supported in Berlin, still a reference for competition authorities b) they excert pressure when the EU is at its weakest: just before appointments and in the middle of a deep institutionnal and economic crisis.

    DG COMP is already changing its practices, not only in banking. So, right or wrong, I would expect a lot of change in the next year. Whether Lagarde takes this portfolio or not.

    Fascinating year ahead of policy watchers and policy bloggers!

    Christophe

    PS: A minor correction to your post: Bruno Lemaire is not UNDER Secretary of State for European Affairs (that maybe US terminology?)
    Granted he does not have full ministerial title but he does attend the Council of ministers (what Brits would call ‘cabinet’), just like his recent predecessor Jouyet, who describes in his govertnment memoires how he insisted on this.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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