Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sarkozy's Private Session in New York

Europe1 has obtained a recording of Nicolas Sarkozy's private meeting with bankers and businessmen in New York. His remarks can be read here. The most interesting is perhaps his assertion that larger European states must be given more power than smaller states:


L’Europe s’est construite en disant à 27 pays, petits moyens et grands : vous avez les mêmes pouvoirs. Ca ne peut plus marcher.

On ne peut pas avoir un système où 27 pays doivent attendre que le 27e soit d’accord pour que les 26 autres puissent avancer. Ce système ne peut plus fonctionner. Et qui peut mener ce leadership ? Les grands pays : l’Allemagne, la France, l’Angleterre, notamment, qui a toute sa place en Europe.

Mais l’Europe va devoir changer énormément sa façon de se construire et de décider. Ca sera le changement ou l’état de gouffre.
This is not a particularly surprising view from a former French head of state. It enforces a view of Europe as a Franco-German duopoly imposing whatever bargain it achieves on "lesser" states. This will meet with resolute opposition, as it should. Sarkozy is right to claim, as he also does in this interview, that Europe has been slow to recognize its relative loss of status with respect to emerging powers. But he persists in his own failure to recognize that the Franco-German duopoly, for all its preponderance in Europe, is no longer the proper lens with which to view Europe's future. The continental economy needs to be rethought as a whole, with fewer national biases and greater emphasis on international complementarities. Europe suffers right now from inherent structural inequalities, but these inequalities can also be seen as an opportunity if industrial organization evolves to take advantage of them, and in the process to reduce them. It would take a much longer essay than I have time for to substantiate this point, but to my mind Sarkozy's remarks, though worth paying attention to, represent the perpetuation of a classic vision of Europe that is no longer adapted to the state of the global economy.

Tocqueville in China

So I'm told:

First there was Confucius. Then there was Mao Zedong. And now Alexis de Tocqueville tops the must-read list for avid Chinese intellectuals and bloggers.

The UMP Dogfight

I'm not sure that Claude Guéant's support for François Fillon is an advantage in his fight with J.-F. Copé or not. One might have expected Guéant, who supported the droitisation of the UMP in Sarkozy's last year, to have gone with Copé, who seems to have committed himself to extending the tactic. But Guéant, a bureaucrat at heart, may find Fillon's understated style more congenial. Who knows? Politics, like romantic comedy, is a matter of chemistry. With supporters like Guéant and Baroin in his camp, Fillon had better watch his back, but then I suppose that back-watching is part of the job description of party leadership. This contest has now been running about as long as a presidential campaign. It's time for a vote.