Europe will be 60! It is young for such a vast political project. But it represents so much when you look at everything that has been accomplished since the Second World War.
A health check of the European Union now reveals its first real political illness. One might say that in 60 years the Union has seen others; but it now seems to be facing something sharper, deeper, something that is eating away at it from within. The symptoms are known and visible: risk of political breakdown with Brexit, the loss of a sense of the general European interest that would now need to be driven by a common vision of the remaining 27 Member States, economic and social disparities, the rise of anti-European populism, the disenchantment of citizens, and distance from technocratic community institutions … The disease is serious and may be critical.
Only one candidate, Marine Le Pen, simply proposes to destroy Europe rather than heal it. I call this a political crime!
Therefore, to treat our sick Europe, in France, as the presidential election approaches, each has put on his white coat, and – with more or less enthusiasm – has gone to the patient’s bedside to dispense his medical advice. Many – both on the right and left – are offering more or less effective treatments. This is being discussed democratically.Only one candidate, Marine Le Pen, simply proposes to destroy Europe rather than heal it. I call this a political crime!
The remedy she proposes is worse than the sickness identified: it is the euthanasia of Europe. She is indeed the only one among the candidates to the highest office to make the end of the euro and membership in the European Union a political objective.
France has reinvented and strengthened itself in the European Union for 60 years.
This is both an enormously misguided and incorrect analysis of history and economics, and an unprecedented political duplicity that would eventually turn against France itself – rendering France an outcast among nations, to the detriment of the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens; the very « People » these ideas claim to defend but which, in truth, such a turn of events would overwhelm.
First, the error in analysis: I do not believe that France will do better by going it alone, amid the new world that is taking shape, riddled with yet unknown threats. France now represents 1% of the world’s population and its influence is largely linked to our history as a great European power. These legacies fade over time. France has reinvented and strengthened itself in the European Union for 60 years. It is because it is a European leader that France remains a world leader.
Are Marine Le Pen supporters aware of the kind of new patriotism – the national-defeatist kind – that the National Front proposes?
To kill Europe is, therefore, to asphyxiate France. Perhaps Marine Le Pen’s plan is, after all, to propose to France a provincial and marginalised future as a peripheral nation, like the so many that history has long forgotten. Then let her say so! And let me ask two questions: are her supporters aware of the kind of new patriotism – the national-defeatist kind – that the National Front proposes? Not to mention that weakened states usually finish by finding themselves in the orbit of a powerful protector. Who or what then would be the protector of France? Putin’s Russia or America’s Donald Trump? And what kind of sovereignty would we then speak of?
We, therefore, have the choice between a diminished sovereignty, that of an ever smaller nation, or the enlarged sovereignty of a France inscribed in the heart of a powerful Europe. The remedy to this can only be the strengthening of Europe to ensure the survival of France in a world where threats to the East, the South and the West are rumbling. That is how we will remain strong on a global scale. France needs Europe. It has the duty and the capacity to shape Europe, and must not withdraw into an isolationism that does not correspond to our values or be absorbed by the nostalgic contemplation of its past greatness.
The National Front is lying to the most fragile, who will be the worst affected.
But beyond analysis, it is the political duplicity, or sham, that makes me indignant. Indeed, the National Front is lying to the most fragile, who will be the worst affected. The most fragile will be the first victims of rising interest rates and the inflation that would be seen following a « Frexit »; the devaluation of wealth and savings that this would entail; as well as the loss of confidence in our economy and the resulting unemployment that would ensue.
Voting Le Pen means to leave the euro and thus regain a devalued national currency and lose purchasing power. We must say what it means and fight this mortifying madness. Without the protection of the euro, markets will attack our banks and thus our savings. Without the European Union, we would no longer have the European voice to back us and nobody would hear our calls for help during a recession. Whatever the critics say, the end of the Euro or the end of the European Union would not be a catharsis, but a cataclysm, of which France would be the first victim.
« Nationalism is war. » And in war, it is always the weakest who suffer first!
I am not naive, nor a blind European. I hear the dissatisfaction of our citizens and the criticisms of Europe. These calls must be answered; we must listen and take into account the pleas of those who feel themselves the losers of globalisation. Yes, we must protect; but without yielding to the fallacy of a nationalist response or the fallacy that the dismantling of Europe could ever be a solution. For as Francois Mitterrand once said: « Nationalism is war. » And in war, it is always the weakest who suffer first!
I want, therefore, to send a message to those who will go to the polls this May. You have the right to be angry with parties, politics, and the European institutions. But do not break Europe! Do not burn our common home! Europe is our future and our protection. To renounce it is also to mortally wound France. Europe needs doctors, not charlatans. We must look after it, not finish it off.