Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Magnette on Macron

Paul Magnette, the former prime minister of Wallonia, has published an interesting analysis of Macron's Sorbonne declaration on Europe. For Magnette, Macron's European vision is all about establishing borders, both internal and external. Internally, there is to be a two-speed Europe. Macron, as Magnette sees it, has not only embraced the German antipathy to a "transfer union," he has also come up with a method for enforcing the insider/outsider division: insiders must harmonize their tax regimes, outsiders will be punished by a loss of access to structural funds. The two-speed Europe will also be furthered by new restrictions on posted workers and heightened sanctions against illiberal, anti-democratic regimes.

Externally, Europe will reinforce its borders not only by increased spending on border security but also by imposing duties on polluting regimes, namely, China and the US. By contrast, Europe will "cooperate" more closely with developing countries in Africa, both to reduce the number of potential immigrants and to develop an external market, which Magnette sees as a latter-day reproduction of the Gaullist vision of a "Françafrique."

This is not the vision of Europe that Magnette would prefer, but he seems nevertheless to credit Macron with a fine sense of realism: This is a Europe that can be achieved in the current configuration of the Franco-German couple.


Anonymous said...

An interesting, and depressing article. However, it does not mention Italy. Perhaps the victimized "good pupils" on the Iberian peninsula" would submit to tax harmonization without a transfer union. Italy, however, would leave the Euro if it were confronted by this alternative (people forget that the next Italian parliament will almost certainly have a eurosceptic majority). Neither Macron nor Merkel would be willing to risk "Brexit all'italiana," so tax harmonization won't happen. Or am I missing something?

The Macron proposal as presented would also almost certainly result in Poland and Hungary leaving the EU, perhaps followed by some other Central European nations. Perhaps this is inevitable (particularly in the case of Hungary, where the main opposition party is even more illiberal than Orban's government), but I don't think that it is something that Macron or Merkel should resign themselves to.

Tim said...

I am not sure I agree with the premise of this article but I do think at this point Macron would like to see a "Hard" Brexit and may even challenge an Article 50 revocation by the UK if it came to that. I will also note that I have heard that Air France and it's unions is lobbying DGAC and Hulot to use a hard Brexit as an opportunity to shutdown Ryanair and Easyjet's operations in France.

*I can explain in more detail what Air France is arguing in legalistic language if anyone is interested. Basically AF is arguing that post Brexit air travel should revert back to the half century old pre EU agreements between the UK and France that basically only allowed British Airways and Air France to fly between the UK and France. No more Ryanair and Easyjet.

Robinson said...

I agree with @anonymous about Poland and Hungary. The idea of sanctions against illiberal EU members has never made sense to me, even when they were applied to Austria. The political effect of sanctions (or even of the threat of them) is to strengthen the anti-European parties that are at odds with the EU Commission and to make the pro-European opposition look unpatriotic. It is very good for Europe that Fidesz is in the EPP. Let the EU expel Hungary if it must: half- or quarter-measures strengthen Victor Orban.

thisnameisinuse said...

The recent interview with Der Spiegel touches on his vision for Europe and is well worth a read: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/interview-with-french-president-emmanuel-macron-a-1172745.html