Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Jouyet Named Secretary General of the Elysée
Sarkozy's Mr. Europe is now François Hollande's right-hand man. He is an old friend of Hollande's, who previously served in such delicate roles as telling Valérie Trierweiler that she was history. Most recently he headed the Caisse des Dépôts. He is an "old Europe hand," having worked with Jacques Delors and Lionel Jospin before Sarkozy. The move is seen as a step toward centralizing control of relations with the EU in the Elysée, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Already, however, the Jouyet nomination is drawing fire, not least for lending credence to Marine Le Pen's charge that the "UMPS" is actually a conspiracy of center-right and center-left to surrender France to neoliberal Europe. As absurd as the charge is, it will nevertheless be exploited by the FN. A more serious criticism, as always with Hollande, is that one has no idea what stance toward Europe he wants Jouyet to take. What is needed right now, in my view, is the toughness to insist that budget deficits in excess of Maastricht limits must be tolerated for some years to come. Even if Brussels cannot be persuaded, the fight needs to be made vigorously and public for domestic political reasons. And depending on how things evolve, France may need to accept the consequences of defying the Commission's edict. If Jouyet has been brought in simply to smooth things over and continue bumbling along, the result will not be pretty.