The head of state speaks to MEPs on 17 April. While he is alone in defending a refoundation of the Union.
Emmanuel Macron can he make the happiness of Europe despite it? The candidate had put the subject at the heart of his campaign, the president installs as the centerpiece of his policy. For now, he is credited with a success of esteem: by his words, he has raised the interest for a little glamorous theme. It remains for him to turn intentions into action. If possible with concrete results by the European elections of May 2019. But support is lacking and Emmanuel Macron can not repaint the Union all by itself, its colors moreover. This is the implicit meaning of his speech to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, Tuesday 17 April. In Athens, September 7th then at the Sorbonne (Paris), the 26th of the same month , the head of state had defined an ambitious approach, convinced that it is at the European level that people can regain sovereignty. A word he says 18 times, on September 26th. “Many of the current tensions are a test for European sovereignty,” it is said today at the Elysée, as the poisoning of Sergei Krispal, the commercial battle launched by Donald Trump , terrorism, climate. ” Solidarity versus responsibility France demands more solidarity. On April 17, in Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron will not redo proposals, but welcome the progress made since his arrival at the Elysee Palace (creation of a European defense fund, reform of the rules of detached work, supervision of investments strategic, progress in the taxation of Gafa) and point two big projects, the most thorny: the migrants and the reform of the euro area. In both cases, it is about showing more solidarity. With the countries exposed to the influx of migrants (Italy and Greece), left alone in the face of the crisis of 2015. With the weakest countries in case of a new economic storm. In both cases, France wants a political agreement for the European summit of 28 and 29 June. In the euro zone, practical work has just begun: Paris had to wait for Berlin, and the composition of a coalition government after the German parliamentary elections of September 24, 2017. The very idea of refounding the rules of the single currency is not felt with the same acuteness on both sides of the Rhine. In Germany, the preference is for the status quo: everything is better, why be agitated? “To do nothing would be a serious mistake,” said a European diplomat, “we must guard against a new blow: most countries have no room for maneuver in the budget if we had to face a new recession.” Hence the French starting position: endow the euro area with a budget, a parliament, a finance minister , and deliberate cold, not in urgency as the 19 countries of the single currency have been doing it since 2010, by dint of last chance plans. Paris banishes words that annoy But this initial ambition evolves. France understood that it was necessary to put away the words that anger: Parliament and Minister of Finance of the euro zone. Remains the budget of the euro area, a term that can refer to very different content. As explained Economist Philippe Martin, Deputy Chairman of the Economic Analysis Council: “Either we adopt an economic vision of things and we decide that in case of a crisis, we must make transfers to the benefit of the weaker countries of the euro zone, however, such a scheme is difficult to sell to public opinion. we choose a more political vision, where Europe would spend spending on consensual objectives such as climate, research, digital, with the proviso that they would not necessarily play a stimulus role in the event of a crisis. ” The first option, that which commits States to more solidarity, is far from being shared. March 6th, eight European countries (including two outside the euro zone) broadcast a joint letter to express their opposition to the French conception. They privilege responsibility: that everyone cleans his house and Europe will be preserved. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel seems alone to be interested in the subject. Part of the CDU is waiting for it at the turn; the SPD, another member of the coalition, seems more interested in social and environmental issues than in monetary affairs. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, although a member of the SPD, plays hawks more than doves. President Emmanuel Macron welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Elysee Palace on March 16, 2018, in Paris. afp.com/LUDOVIC MARIN How far will the determination of the German leader go? On March 16, just after her government was formed, she visited Emmanuel Macron in Paris. The German and the French spend four hours together, one hour 30 alone, with the sole presence of a translator: it was this expert – even if Macron and Merkel exchange in English – to address such a complex subject. Since the arrival of the French, this is their first in-depth exchange on the reform of the euro area. On April 19, the two meet in Berlin for four hours of talk. The euro zone is still on the menu. Towards a loose calendar? The question of the budget is not the only sensible one: that of the creation of a European deposit guarantee (100,000 euros in any bank in the euro zone) meets with reluctance in Germany, always motivated by the fear of paying for others. Two other issues will be on the agenda of the summit in late June: the taxation of digital giants and the management of migrants (via a modification of the Dublin regulation ). Faced with the difficulty of getting along, it is not impossible that the calendar is loose. “Anyway, Macron has interest in continuing to say that it will reform,” said a close. But the issue is also internal policy: to give more weight in the European negotiations, the President of the Republic was keen to respect the budgetary rules. It is done (public deficits have returned below the 3% mark) but at the price of painful choices: decisions favorable to the purchasing power of the French have been postponed until the end of 2018 to avoid overburdening the accounts and Macron pays the political price. A failure in Europe would raise the question: all for that?