French politics / International

German phobia

Arnaud Montebourg, current socialist MP

German phobia. This word was pronounced and a tough debate started.

Since a couple of days, some French socialist members strongly criticized the Angela Merkel European policy. Arnaud Montebourg referred to Bismarck and Martine Aubry – the current PS first secretary – dealt with capitulation to describe the Nicolas Sarkozy’s behaviour vis-à-vis the latest propositions of Berlin as far as the solutions to guarantee the future of the Economic and Monetary Union are concerned.

Indeed, the “Angie’s” strategy and ideas set some people’s teeth on edge. Thus, let’s give up the principle of solidarity between Member States! It’s austerity for everybody from now, in a free-market way, only solution to make the public finances some countries as Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (also known as the PIGS acronym) healthier.

Moreover, France and Germany seem to impose a franco-german directoire where they might impose their own point of views and will to the others as it was the case during the previous European Council in February 2011, still in the framework of the Eurozone debt crisis. Still there, the German chancellor wished to make her economic model a reference to the other EU members, even if it means keeping pressure on working and middle classes, as she clearly explained on May 2010 in Bundestag, the German parliament.

The Montebourg statements are exaggerated as the ruling party members’ reactions. Nonetheless, behind this, there is still a real burning issue put forward by the former candidate for the presidential socialist candidacy and current MP as far as the choices made by Merkel and backed by Sarkozy.

The German and the French leader are more motivated by national and political interests than the future of European Union. For the one as the other, the Eurozone way out of crisis can’t be possible without an austerity policy imposed to all the EU member-states but can be feasible without any solidarity and any discussion, in an inter-governmental framework, of course! A new federalist direction is not still on the agenda, as the Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech delivered at Toulon confirmed recently.

So, the Montebourg and some socialists’ position rather tackled the European policy of Germany than expressed any German phobia feeling. Besides, let’s remind the reference to Bismarck does not come from Montebourg but from the German social-democrats who are strongly opposed to the Angela Merkel strategy and speak in favour of a real federalist way with the implementation of Eurobonds to solve the debt crisis. This position was defended once again by Martin Schulz, socialist and democrat MEP and group president during a press conference held by the French socialist candidate, François Hollande, some days ago in the European Parliament at Brussels.

François Hollande, socialist candidate for the 2012 French presidential election with Martin Schulz, S&D group president during his press conference in the EP, Brussels (Belgium), November 30rd

To sum up, considering some French socialists declarations as German phobic is not relevant, even hazardous. Nonetheless, this controversy deserves to exist especially when the Angela Merkel strategy, backed by Nicolas Sarkozy is questionable for the future of the European integration (and the Europeans) in a long-term.