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AB 2000 studies

Alain Boublil Blog


Europe : The new way

Where there is the will, there is the way, would have said Lao-Tseu, the Chinese philosopher. At the eve of the European elections and in a world full of crisis and tensions, this thought is still present. People, notably in France, are in the habit of forgetting all the things past time brought to them and of worrying about the difficulties they have to cope with. The look taken on Europe is not an exception to this rule. The populist and nationalist movements rise in several States, members of the Union, is testifying about that. The world has changed and the European project, which wasn’t built in one day, must find its new way. Unfortunately, political leaders prefer to take the opportunity of the coming elections to promote their action and to be focused on internal political considerations instead of mapping out this new way for Europe, indispensable for answering to the challenges of the today world.

Europe has not been built in one day. The project had as a target to establish a durable peace on the continent. Under the inspiration of its Founding Fathers, among them were Robert Schumann et Jean Monnet, economic agreements on strategic purposes have been concluded which were to lead to the creation of a large cooperation zone and to the Rome Treaty. Reconstruction and growth were there and allowed the establishment of a trust climate to guaranteeing political relations and to restoring friendship between people. The Verdun ceremony where we see in 1984 President Mitterrand and Chancellor Kohl joining their hands will be the strong symbol of the success of this first phase of the European construction.

The second phase aimed at making the continent an economic power with the enlarging of the Community and its transformation into an Union, the creation of the unique market and then of its unique currency for the State-members which had chosen to adopt it, The founding principes of the construction of this new project were mainly liberal. They are about goods and services trades and they impose the reduction of State interventions and the instauration, everywhere it was possible, of a free and unbiased competition.

This choice was logical in a pacific globalization context where everybody was the winner. The borders opening gave the consumers a large choice of products and services and competition was a powerful factor to reduce inflationist tensions. That period will be affected by several major financial crisis outside and inside the Union (pound, sub-primes, Greek debt, Irish banks) the mechanisms put into place will allow to overcoming. Growth has slowed in comparison with the reconstruction decades but will remain solid and inflation, itself, will have almost disappeared. But this model has today shown its limits.

International tensions since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the worries about China growing competition, in a context where major actions must be done in the domain of environment, have shown the end of this second phase and its long period of success for the European project and of support from concerned people. The energy crisis which has occurred, the growing power of the Chinese industry which now appears as a competitor after having been a supplier and the reactions of the United States with the adoption of measures dedicated to protect the American industry, to the opposite of the past liberal principles, so impose to Europe the definition of a new project for this third phase.

If not, the current discontent coming from the capacity adaptation inability of the model could arouse a fall of the people support and a growing contestation. The true stake of the elections at the European Parliament so is well the definition of a mandate to successfully start this third phase and not to be used as a full dimension test of the respective weights of the different political forces in the concerned countries for their future elections. But to do that, a program including remedies to the current weaknesses must be elaborated and proposed.

This program must answer to the concrete expectations of the Europeans and doesn’t limit itself to abstracts considerations or to language elements as independency, power, sovereignty or the union of the financial markets. The first cause of the weakening of the popular support to Europe is the bureaucratic invasion generated by the profusion of new norms and of procedures of control which have harmed the daily life of the enterprises and so of their employees. On one side are hailed the virtues of competition and of the market and in the other side administrations were in charge of putting into application more and more restraining measures. The French agricultural crisis has been a powerful revealer.

The second priority must be to put into question everywhere it will be necessary and possible the opening to competition of the main public services. The energy markets crisis in 2023 has shown to which point this policy was inefficient. This principle must also be applied to the rules about mergers between enterprises. There too, due to the compliance with competition rules, several operations have been blocked, weakening the European industry to the big profit to their Chinese, American or Japanese competitors which are not always submitted to such constraints.

On the same way, rules forbidding States aids or subjecting them to long and complex procedures must be deeply made flexible and the concept of industrial policy must be accepted at the European level and even at the national level when it is justified by the situation of the enterprises of a country.

The last major point of the necessary reforms to allow Europe to going on to prosper, to being in capacity to defend itself and to adapt to a world in tension, regards public finances and taxes. It is not possible inside the euro zone to impose criteria on deficits and public indebtedness and to let prospering true tax heavens in Luxemburg, Chypre, Ireland or Holland where are diverted taxes which would have benefited to the countries where the wealth creation occurred.

It is not also possible to fix as an objective the independence and the sovereignty of Europe regarding defense when the criteria about public finances consider military expenditures as current expenditures. Whether it is imposed to each State to allocate a percentage of its expenditures to national defense, or are abolished the Maastricht Treaty criteria. The difference between France and Germany public indebtedness, so frequently quoted, is, for a large share, the consequence of the gap between the amounts dedicated to national defense by the two countries. During the 34 years which have followed German reunification, that has reached more than 30% of the German GDP. The spread between the indebtedness rates which has not ceased to increase is today above 40% and is so by large the consequence of that. The pressure exercised by Brussels on fiscality and on public expenditures has also contributed to the decline of the attachment of people to the European project.

To make Europe loved again through concrete proposals, understandable by all French and   European people. So would be the objective of the political parties which participate to the campaign for the European elections, and, above it, by the governments in their actions. In the today world, an efficient Europe, which benefits from the support of people who are part of it, has never been so needed.