If I am taking the liberty of addressing you directly, it is not only in the name of the history and values that unite us. It is because time is of the essence. In a few weeks’ time, the European elections will be decisive for the future of our continent.
Never, since the Second World War, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger.
Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolises the crisis of Europe, which has failed to respond to its peoples’ needs for protection from the major shocks of the modern world. It also symbolises the European trap. The trap is not being part of the European Union. The trap is in the lie and the irresponsibility that can destroy it. Who told the British people the truth about their post-Brexit future? Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe: the anger mongers, backed by fake news, promise anything and everything.
We have to stand firm, proud and lucid, in the face of this manipulation and say first of all what Europe is. It is a historic success: the reconciliation of a devastated continent in an unprecedented project of peace, prosperity and freedom. We should never forget that. And this project continues to protect us today. What country can act on its own in the face of aggressive strategies by the major powers? Who can claim to be sovereign, on their own, in the face of the digital giants? How would we resist the crises of financial capitalism without the euro, which is a force for the entire European Union? Europe is also those thousands of projects daily that have changed the face of our regions: the school refurbished, the road built, and the long-awaited arrival of high-speed Internet access. This struggle is a daily commitment, because Europe, like peace, can never be taken for granted. I tirelessly pursue it in the name of France to take Europe forward and defend its model. We have shown that what we were told was unattainable, the creation of a European defence capability and the protection of social rights, was in fact possible.
Yet we need to do more and sooner, because there is the other trap: the trap of the status quo and resignation. Faced with the major crises in the world, citizens so often ask us, “Where is Europe? What is Europe doing?” It has become a soulless market in their eyes. Yet Europe is not just a market. It is a project. A market is useful, but it should not detract from the need for borders that protect and values that unite. The nationalists are misguided when they claim to defend our identity by withdrawing from Europe, because it is the European civilisation that unites, frees and protects us. But those who would change nothing are also misguided, because they deny the fears felt by our peoples, the doubts that undermine our democracies. We are at a pivotal moment for our continent, a moment when together we need to politically and culturally reinvent the shape of our civilisation in a changing world. It is the moment for European renewal. Hence, resisting the temptation of isolation and divisions, I propose we build this renewal together around three ambitions: freedom, protection and progress.
Defend our freedom
The European model is based on the freedom of man and the diversity of opinions and creation. Our first freedom is democratic freedom: the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our vote at each election. I propose creating a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies, which will provide each Member State with European experts to protect their election process against cyber attacks and manipulation. In this same spirit of independence, we should also ban the funding of European political parties by foreign powers. We should have European rules banish all incitements to hate and violence from the Internet, since respect for the individual is the bedrock of our civilisation of dignity.
Protect our continent
Founded on internal reconciliation, the European Union has forgotten to look at the realities of the world. Yet no community can create a sense of belonging if it does not have bounds that it protects. The boundary is freedom in security. We therefore need to rethink the Schengen area: all those who want to be part of it should comply with obligations of responsibility (stringent border controls) and solidarity (one asylum policy with the same acceptance and refusal rules). We will need a common border force and a European asylum office, strict control obligations and European solidarity to which each country will contribute under the authority of a European Council for Internal Security. On the issue of migration, I believe in a Europe that protects both its values and its borders.
The same standards should apply to defence. Substantial progress has been made in the last two years, but we need to set a clear course: a treaty on defence and security should define our fundamental obligations in association with NATO and our European allies: increased defence spending, a truly operational mutual defence clause, and the European Security Council with the United Kingdom on board to prepare our collective decisions.
Our borders also need to guarantee fair competition. What power in the world would accept continued trade with those who respect none of their rules? We cannot suffer in silence. We need to reform our competition policy and reshape our trade policy with penalties or a ban in Europe on businesses that compromise our strategic interests and fundamental values such as environmental standards, data protection and fair payment of taxes; and the adoption of European preference in strategic industries and our public procurement, as our American and Chinese competitors do. Recover the spirit of progress
Europe is not a second-rank power. Europe in its entirety is a vanguard: it has always defined the standards of progress. In this, it needs to drive forward a project of convergence rather than competition: Europe, where social security was created, needs to introduce a social shield for all workers, east to west and north to south, guaranteeing the same pay in the same workplace, and a minimum European wage appropriate to each country and discussed collectively every year.
Getting back on track with progress also concerns spearheading the ecological cause. Will we be able to look our children in the eye if we do not also clear our climate debt? The European Union needs to set its target – zero carbon by 2050 and pesticides halved by 2025 – and adapt its policies accordingly with such measures as a European Climate Bank to finance the ecological transition, a European food safety force to improve our food controls and, to counter the lobby threat, independent scientific assessment of substances hazardous to the environment and health. This imperative needs to guide all our action: from the Central Bank to the European Commission, from the European budget to the Investment Plan for Europe, all our institutions need to have the climate as their mandate.
Progress and freedom are about being able to live from your work: Europe needs to look ahead to create jobs. This is why it needs not only to regulate the digital giants by putting in place European supervision of the major platforms (prompt penalties for unfair competition, transparent algorithms, etc.), but also to finance innovation by giving the new European Innovation Council a budget on a par with the United States in order to spearhead new technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence.
A world-oriented Europe needs to look towards Africa, with which we should enter into a covenant for the future, taking the same road and ambitiously and non-defensively supporting African development with such measures as investment, academic partnerships and education for girls.
Freedom, protection and progress. We need to build European renewal on these pillars. We cannot let nationalists without solutions exploit the people’s anger. We cannot sleepwalk through a diminished Europe. We cannot become ensconced in business as usual and wishful thinking. European humanism demands action. And everywhere, the people are standing up to be part of that change. So by the end of the year, let’s set up, with the representatives of the European institutions and the Member States, a Conference for Europe in order to propose all the changes our political project needs, with an open mind, even to amending the treaties. This conference will need to engage with citizens’ panels and hear academics, business and labour representatives, and religious and spiritual leaders. It will define a roadmap for the European Union that translates these key priorities into concrete actions. There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different paces, and that is open to all?
In this Europe, the peoples will really take back control of their future. In this Europe, the United Kingdom, I am sure, will find its true place.
Citizens of Europe, the Brexit impasse is a lesson for us all. We need to escape this trap and make the upcoming elections and our project meaningful. It is for you to decide whether Europe and the values of progress that it embodies are to be more than just a passing episode in history. This is the choice I propose: to chart together the road to European renewal.
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«Se prendo la libertà di rivolgermi direttamente a voi, non è solo in nome della storia e dei valori che ci riuniscono. È perché è urgente. Tra qualche settimana, le elezioni europee saranno decisive per il futuro del nostro continente. Mai dalla Seconda Guerra mondiale, l’Europa è stata così necessaria. Eppure, mai l’Europa è stata tanto in pericolo.»
«La Brexit ne è l’emblema. Emblema della crisi dell’Europa, che non ha saputo rispondere alle esigenze di protezione dei popoli di fronte alle grandi crisi del mondo contemporaneo»
«Il ripiego nazionalista non propone nulla; è un rifiuto senza progetto. E questa insidia minaccia tutta l’Europa: coloro che sfruttano la collera, sostenuti dalle false informazioni, promettono tutto e il contrario di tutto.»
«I nazionalisti sbagliano quando pretendono di difendere la nostra identità con il ritiro dall’Europa, perché è la civiltà europea che ci riunisce, ci libera e ci protegge»
«Ma anche coloro che non vorrebbero cambiare nulla sbagliano, perché negano le paure che attanagliano i nostri popoli, i dubbi che minano le nostre democrazie»
«Propongo che venga creata un’Agenzia europea di protezione delle democrazie che fornirà esperti europei ad ogni Stato membro per proteggere il proprio iter elettorale»
«Dobbiamo pertanto rivedere lo spazio Schengen: tutti coloro che vogliono parteciparvi devono rispettare obblighi di responsabilità (rigoroso controllo delle frontiere) e di solidarietà (una stessa politica di asilo, con le stesse regole di accoglienza e di rifiuto)»
«Dobbiamo riformare la nostra politica della concorrenza, rifondare la nostra politica commerciale: punire o proibire in Europa le aziende che ledono i nostri interessi strategici ed i nostri valori essenziali, come le norme ambientali, la protezione dei dati ed il giusto pagamento delle tasse; e assumere, nelle industrie strategiche e nei nostri appalti pubblici, una preferenza europea come fanno i nostri concorrenti americani o cinesi»
«L’Unione europea deve fissare la sua ambizione – 0 carbonio nel 2050, dimezzamento dei pesticidi nel 2025 – e adattare le sue politiche a questa esigenza: Banca europea per il clima per finanziare la transizione ecologica; forza sanitaria europea per rafforzare i controlli dei nostri alimenti; contro la minaccia delle lobby, valutazione scientifica indipendente delle sostanze pericolose per l’ambiente e la salute»
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Il documento di Mr Macron è ampio, sfaccettato, ma da leggersi bene dietro le righe. Magari, rileggerselo potrebbe essere utile.
In buona sostanza propone degli Stati Uniti di Europa a governo francese, essendo lui il Presidente con autorità sulla Ecb.
Gli diamo atto che non pretende il caffè a letto e nemmeno l’erezione di un tempo per adorarlo.
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La risposta tedesca arriva a distanza di una settimana, forte e chiara.
«CDU’s Kramp-Karrenbauer says ‘nein’ to European centralism»
«The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party rejected “European centralism,” reining in French ambitions for joint action against debt and economic inequality»
«A European minimum wage, a unified social-security system and joint debt issuance are “the wrong track,”»
«Creating a “common market for banks” would be worthwhile»
«Our Europe must get stronger, but the answer can’t simply be to transfer powers away from the national and local levels»
«No matter how charming the French are — in France, it’s always and above all about French interests»
In sintesi estrema. Si è spezzato l’Asse frangermanico.
– CDU’s Kramp-Karrenbauer says ‘nein’ to European centralism
– A German response to French leader’s call for European renewal
The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party rejected “European centralism,” reining in French ambitions for joint action against debt and economic inequality.
A European minimum wage, a unified social-security system and joint debt issuance are “the wrong track,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a Merkel protegee who leads the governing Christian Democratic Union, said in an op-ed for Welt am Sonntag. Creating a “common market for banks” would be worthwhile, she said.
The response from Berlin to French President Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping plans for strengthening the European Union is the latest sign that leaders of the EU’s two biggest powers differ in tone and substance on how to remedy the continent’s gloom. While seeking to stop the advance of anti-EU nationalists, Macron’s manifesto would create several new agencies.
“Our Europe must get stronger,” but the answer can’t simply be to transfer powers away from the national and local levels, the newspaper quoted Kramp-Karrenbauer as saying.
In proposals more aligned with Macron, she said Europe needs a unified database for tracking immigration, “an accord on gapless border protection” and a European pact for climate protection, which would be hashed out by companies, employees and the public.
Macron’s blueprint for “European renewal” is part of a push by political leaders to blunt the appeal of populist parties, who are seeking to turn European Parliament elections across the EU in May into a referendum on their nationalist visions for the continent.
Kramp-Karrenbauer has laid down markers before. Before CDU delegates elected her in December to succeed Merkel as party chairwoman, she courted German conservatives with a strident tone that departed from Merkel’s measured rhetoric.
“No matter how charming the French are — in France, it’s always and above all about French interests,” she said in November.
– Trump economic adviser advises fiscal, labor reforms in Europe
– Kudlow says U.S. is ‘only demand’ Europe has for goods sales
U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser offered sharp criticism of the European Central Bank’s revival of stimulus measures to spur the economy.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday during a Bloomberg Television interview that a ECB decision Thursday to extend a new round of cheap loans to the banking system wouldn’t be enough to fix the continent’s underlying problems.
ECB President Mario Draghi “is a very smart man. I’m not here to take his inventory,” Kudlow said.
“I’m just saying, another round of that version of QE — concessionary cheap loans to banks — that’s not the answer,” he said. “The answer is they’ve got to make labor and fiscal reforms throughout Europe, and most of those countries haven’t really done it, so their growth rates are uncomfortably close to zero.”
Kudlow’s criticisms were prompted by a question about whether the U.S. economy could withstand a global slowdown. He said he was confident it could, and claimed that American strength was the only thing keeping Europe afloat at the moment.
Recent data have painted a gloomy picture of the euro area’s state of economic affairs, raising concern that the 19-nation bloc would be flirting with recession before long. The ECB responded to sharp downward revisions to its 2019 projections for growth and inflation by announcing a fresh series of long-term bank funding and promising to keep interest at their current rock-bottom levels for longer.
The Trump administration is forecasting U.S. economic growth of about 3 percent this year, which Kudlow said is being delivered through tax cuts, de-regulation and new trade deals.
“If it weren’t for the U.S. — our consumers are buying their goods, our businesses are buying their capital goods, right, industrial goods. We’re the only demand they have,” Kudlow said. “We are trying to help them. But at some point they’ve got to take measures — you know, help comes to those who help themselves.”
On efforts by the U.S. and EU to negotiate a trade deal, Kudlow said the talks have been constructive and that the two sides are moving toward an “early harvest” agreement on LNG, soybeans and standards on pharmaceuticals, among other things.
“We’re moving in the right direction to show that the United States and the EU can in fact have a much better trade relationship,” he said.
Transatlantic trade talks have not officially started and no launch date has been set yet, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Bloomberg on Thursday. The EU, which still needs a negotiating mandate, wants to narrow the scope of the talks to lowering tariffs on industrial goods and autos before opening it up to thornier issues, according to Malmstrom.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has told Congress that he wouldn’t conclude an agreement without including agriculture, while the EU wants the politically sensitive issue kept out of talks.