Sunday, March 11, 2012

From Saving the Euro to Sinking Europe

In the early stages of the presidential campaign, it looked as though Sarkozy's theme was going to be "I saved the euro." Merkel appeared at his side and gave him her nihil obstat. Here was a genuine European, a statesman, above the sturm und drang of party politics and prepared to make the decisions that only a "tough" and "seasoned" leader could make. The contrast with Hollande, "le mou," was supposed to be stark and to need no explanation.

The only problem is that it didn't work. Sarkozy had saved the euro, but in doing so he had associated himself ever more closely with the European Union, which is less popular now in France than it was in 2005, when the treaty referendum was defeated. And he had thrown in his lot with Germany, whose contempt for "lazy southerners" may have been directed first at Greece but also resounded in the ears of the French who had been exhorted to "travailler plus pour gagner plus" yet find themselves worse off than they were before.

So the president and his men have evidently decided to change tack. At Villepinte today, he called for "protection" if not protectionism. He threatened to renege on the Schengen agreement while announcing that Europe should cease to "threaten" French workers and instead become their "protector." The result is total and complete incoherence. Having accepted a nonsensical "golden rule" for the sake of European unity, having extolled Europe as the sole means to secure France's future both economically and militarily, he now retreats behind the walls of "conservatism in one nation" already erected by Marine Le Pen. Sarkozy's Europeanism had been one of his better traits, but now he's shed his skin like a snake and donned another, at least for the length of the campaign.

The danger, of course, is that this sham anti-Europeanism will prove more effective than the real thing, dispiriting Europe's true supporters while inviting nothing but mockery from Europe's enemies. It was pleasant to think that even if the euro failed, Europe would survive, but anti-European sentiment is chipping away at the foundations of the faith in the core countries. More and more Germans see Europe as an invalid whose care will be their burden to bear for decades to come, while more and more French see it as camouflage behind which the Germans are coming yet again. The climate deteriorates by the day, and Sarkozy, who in 2007 had seemed to model himself on Bush, now seems to have become as chameleon-like as Romney. Quelle mascarade!

Girard on Villepinte

Bernard Girard was not impressed with Sarkozy's performance at Villepinte:

Nicolas Sarkozy donne de plus en plus le sentiment d'un canard qui continue de courir alors qu'on lui a coupé la tête. Il a toujours autant d'énergie et de talent. Son discours était bien tourné, bien donné, mais il n'a plus d'idées, plus d'ambition, plus de projet. Ce n'est pas tant la faute de son bilan, qu'il ne défend même plus, que de la crise dont il n'arrive pas à nous faire un récit convaincant.

Racist EU Ad

A racist ad promoting the European Union has been withdrawn from circulation, but the embarrassment remains:

By now, the viral disaster of a European Union TV ad, wherein various non-Western martial artists confront a white brunette, who symbolizes Europe, has made its way around the internet a few times. The European commission recalled the ad Tuesday and apologized for any offense. Here it is, above, an ugly masterpiece of stereotypical dualities. Male to female. Armed to unarmed. Barbaric to civilized. Brute force to intelligence (the men menace with sword and muscle; the woman thinksherself into a circle).
(h/t MR)

Sarkozy vs. Schengen

#sarkothon Tiens, tiens! President Sarkozy, after sharply criticizing François Hollande for his "irresponsible" criticism of the recent budgetary discipline agreement--"France gave its word, one doesn't renege on a promise made in the name of la patrie"--announced today at Villepinte that he intends, if reelected, to renegotiate the Schengen agreement. So apparently the word of France in financial matters is one thing, but the word of France in regard to the free circulation of human beings is something else again.

So one might ask whether immigration has reached such proportions in France relative to other European countries that France should be taking such a measure. And the answer can be seen in the graph below.


"Alors les accords de Shengen ne permettent plus de répondre à la gravité de la situation, ils doivent être révisés. On ne peut pas laisser la gestion des flux migratoires aux seules mains des technocrates et des tribunaux, a-t-il déclaré. Il faut une discipline commune dans les contrôles aux frontières. Il faut pouvoirsanctionnersuspendre ou exclure de Schengen un Etat défaillant. Si je devaisconstater que dans les douze mois qui viennent il n'y avait aucun progrès sérieux dans cette direction, alors la France suspendrait sa participation aux accords de Schengen jusqu'à ce que les négociations aient abouti."