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"It would be serious that the European campaign is not up to the stakes"

For the European Union, the biggest risk is inaction, argues the economist in his column in the "World".

Posted today at 04h45 Time to Reading 4 min.

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In Brussels, on March 14, 2019.
In Brussels, March 14, 2019. Francisco Seco / AP

Chronic. Who still remembers the latest campaigns for the European elections? This time though, it could be different. In any case, it should be difficult to ignore British secession, the rise of external threats, the bipolarization of the world, the hostility of the Trump administration; difficult to underestimate the severity of the divide between those for whom the nation is defined by its institutions and those for whom it derives from an ethno-religious identity; difficult to forget, as growth settles, that the euro zone remains untouched and fragile. It would be serious that the campaign does not live up to these stakes.

Read also Can Europe get out of history?

The ambitious platform of Emmanuel Macron and the immediate response of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer ("AKK"), the dauphine of Angela Merkel, like, on a completely different register, the very constructed identity of Viktor Orban, the first Hungarian minister, or the still stammering research of a new leftist agenda, suggest the possibility of a real debate.

After being successfully built around an ideal, peace through interdependence, the community of Europe developed around a project, prosperity through economic and monetary integration, with results probably lower expectations but nevertheless positive. But the question is, what is its raison d'être today?

Emergencies today

A redefinition is essential, because the assumptions on which the European Union has so far been based are called into question. It had made its nest in a multilateral world wanted and organized by the United States, and is now confronted with the logic of power relations. Assuming the acquired state of law, she had devoted herself to the economy, but elective autocracies settled within her. According to an implicit contract, it had favored efficiency and left equity to the States, and is now attacked for having facilitated tax optimization and enrichment of the powerful.

The difficulty is not finding out what the Union can serve. Everyone sees that American nationalism and the Chinese assertion plead for it to take charge of its own destiny. Everyone understands that today's emergencies – climate, security, migration, trade negotiations, anti-monopolies, tax evasion, data protection, international currency – call for common answers. The problem is rather the impossibility of making political choices while perspectives and positions diverge. What threatens Europe to become obsolete is its lack of credibility.

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