Monday, December 12, 2011

Sarkozy Responds to My Question

The other day I entitled a  post "A New Europe?" Question mark. Today, Nicolas Sarkozy told Le Monde that the upshot of the Brussels agreement is indeed "a new Europe." Or at any rate a "different" Europe. He is more optimistic than commentators elsewhere, who are wondering if the agreement means the end of Europe. Time will tell, but in the meanwhile Sarkozy has staked his all on this agreement and will organize his presidential campaign around it--presuming that there is not some imminent disaster in the financial markets. Moody's warned that it is maintaining its watch on a number of countries, including France, while others cast a wary eye on the markets:

With mounds of European debt due to be refinanced early next year, the crisis is far from over. “More tests will obviously come, and soon,” perhaps as early as the opening of financial markets on Monday, said Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister.

In France, François Hollande says that if he is elected,  he "will renegotiate" the treaty. You can expect Sarkozy to make a major issue of this statement, which betrays--how shall I put it?--a less than firm grasp of the dynamics of international relations. Barring a collapse between now and next May, Hollande will have zero leverage with Germany. What is more, Hollande embraces the very austerity thinking that is at the heart of the Brussels agreement:

Il s'agit tout de même de 11,5 millions d'euros d'économies avec une hausse des impôts et la diminution de prestations sociales...L'austérité voudrait dire qu'on augmente beaucoup plus les impôts et qu'on remette en cause des prestations – ce qu'on ne fait pas, puisque toutes les allocations ont été maintenues. Elles ont, pour partie, été mises sous condition de ressources. On essaie d'éviter que ce soit pénalisant pour les familles modestes et moyennes.
C'est votre «rigueur juste»?C'est du sérieux. Et c'est de la justice. On fait du sérieux dans la justice et de la justice dans le sérieux.
"Just austerity" is apparently the new mantra of "social liberalism." It is not a rejection of the thesis of "expansionary contraction" but a sugar-coating, and it is not likely to appeal to voters seeking an alternative to the Paris-Berlin consensus.

This comment is particularly worrisome:

«Hollande est bien avec tout le monde mais, en politique, on ne peut pas être bien avec tout le monde», sourit Pascal Bagnarol, le responsable du PCF dans le département. «La Corrèze est un cas d'espèce révélateur entre une ligne d'accompagnement et une ligne de résistance, estime Eric Coquerel, responsable national du parti de gauche, qui devrait être candidat aux législatives à Brive. La gauche ne gagnera pas avec une politique libérale-honteuse...»

1 comment:

french derek said...

The sad thing is that Sarkozy has won. He hated the idea of the EU Commission regulating overspending national budgets. He prefers "between -friends" politicians' haggling (at which he's pretty good). He's now got what he wanted.