'Superficial' Franco-German engine needs kick-start
Exclusive interview to Euractiv, Monday April 4 2011, Brussels
Mr Delors, MEPs gave you a long standing ovation, last October, during your most recent visit to Brussels. You were applauded for your accomplishments, but also for being very critical of Germany. The crisis is affecting all of Europe very strongly, and you asked whether Germany remained faithful to European values. What is happening in Europe: what is your analysis?
It seems that the climate is not very good, for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of this or that European leader. On the one hand, globalisation is spreading fear or even terror among citizens, and there is a tension between the global and the local levels. And when there is a tension of this type, people who are at the local level try to find things to belong to, reference points they can hold on to. It can be the municipality, it can be the ‘Länder’ in Germany, it can be the nation state, but ultimately this does slide towards a bit more nationalism.
The second element is that these societies are very complex and at the same time the media, the Fourth Estate, have taken on a considerable importance, all the while trying to simplify everything.
A worrying divide has grown between what we call the elites, I would say those who have power, because the word ‘elite’ is a bit pejorative, and the people of the base. This second point makes it hard to explain: why Europe? But in addition it leads to populism and discourses of the far left or the far right in all our countries.
This atmosphere is neither favourable to bringing together points of view between European states on the one hand, nor on the other to creating a feeling among citizens of belonging to something in addition to their nation, which remains essential to this overall ambition and to this common vessel which is Europe.
These are the two fundamental reasons, I think. They can present themselves in different ways depending on the country. And the other day, because it was the anniversary of German reunification and because Germany was on centre stage, I asked the question to the Germans.
But I could just as easily have raised it with the Dutch, the Belgians, the French, the Italians or the Spanish. So my comments were not to be interpreted as a whiff of this anti-German wave, or of suspicion towards Germany that we see in other countries, because the German economy is doing better than those of other countries, because they do exercise an influence that is considerable on economic and monetary questions, as we are seeing in the preparation of modifications to Economic and Monetary Union.
So I was taking advantage of this occasion, without demagoguery. But I would not have done it in France. Because in France, this immediately would have shown support for those who wildly and blindly criticise Germany.
But here it was my role to tell them: so after the fall of the Wall, dear German friends, how did you see your future? Yours and that of your neighbours?
But behind all this there is the euro. You are the father of the euro.
One of the fathers of the euro.
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