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Inequalities

“Liberté –Egalité -Fraternité”, this emblematic motto adorns the front of every French Town Hall and boasts the new values that the country adopted on the morrow of its great revolution. Since then France has undertaken, with undeniable success, to propagate them worldwide. If the words seem to form a coherent juxtaposition, they express, nevertheless, concepts that belong to complementary but by no means identical, categories. “Liberty” can be classified as belonging to the list of “human rights”, limited only by the freedom of others. “Equality” is an aspiration towards which one can yearn without ever reaching it. “Fraternity” is a sentiment, applied voluntarily, aiming at reducing inequalities. The social compact implicit in the adoption of this motto is based on…

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“Germany must overcome two demons!”

Commentry on Pierre Defraigne’ article in “La Libre Belgique” (30/08/17) As is often the case, I share much of Pierre Defraigne’ analysis; nevertheless, reading this article leaves me somewhat dubious. Indeed, if the usual references to “non-interference” in the internal affairs of other countries are to be expected, they seem here to be a pretext to put the spotlight on the responsibilities that, according to the author, Germany should assume unilaterally. The analysis and the critique of the current situation is based on the belief that it is in the country’s (short term) interests to preserve the status quo in light of the domination it exercises both through key European mandates it has secured and the sheer economic and financial…

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President Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union address

Strasburg, September 14th 2017 What a refreshing change since the publication last May 31st of the Commission’s paper on the deepening of EMU(1) of which I had made a thorough and critical analysis in an article dated June17. The proposals contained in President Junker’s speech in front of the European Parliament show a bold and coherent vision of the Union’s future. I wish to insist on the word “coherence”, a quality that is too rarely associated with such a comprehensive review, because, even if some will doubt the feasibility of some of its elements, they form a largely interdependent “whole” that loses much of its pertinence if considered only piecemeal. The subsequent necessary debate should strive to maintain this coherence…

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“Brexit”

The Trap of the Transition Period! A certain amount of febrility is surrounding the Brexit negotiations in the aftermath of Theresa May’s Florence speech. The tone of the message was conciliatory and brought some clarifications to items that had stymied the initial stages of the talks. In particular the acknowledgement of financial liabilities concerning past commitments (without defining them but accepting, at least implicitly, an amount equal to budgetary obligations extending through 2020) was most welcome; this could lead, at last, to serious negotiations, leaving aside the posturing that had paralysed any meaningful progress so far. The Irish border question was largely ignored except by reference to the transition period (see below) aiming at postponing dealing with a particularly difficult…

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The EU “On the Road”

Since May 14th the European Union can, once again, start moving forward following the inauguration of President Macron. It was a near thing that the European project, initiated over 60 years ago, came a cropper under the violence of nationalist and populist assaults. If the victory of Emmanuel Macron appears evident with the benefit of hindsight, one should recall that in the first round of the election, over half the voters backed anti-European programs and a further quarter favoured a Union under French domination. Furthermore, in the second round, the risk of having a choice limited to two anti-European extremists was decided by only a few hundred thousand votes between the four main candidates. Had the race been between Le…

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The French Legislative Elections

The debate surrounding the € should not be shelved! The strong showing of President Macron in the second round of the presidential elections was due, in part, to the disastrous demonstration of incompetence and ignorance by his rival, Marine Le Pen, concerning monetary affairs. During the current parliamentary election campaign, she is desperately attempting to bury the matter by postponing any decision concerning the National Front’s position in relation to the Euro. It remains, however, of great importance that the French voter be fully informed with regard to policies that affect deeply the country’s “monetary national sovereignty” and the wealth of its population. President Macron has put the further integration of the Eurozone at the very heart of his program….

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Commentary on: EU paper on deepening EMU

(European Commission: First published on 31 May 2017) (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/reflection-paper-deepening-economic-and-monetary-union_en/) 1. Introduction The publication of the Commission’s “Reflection paper on the deepening of the economic and monetary union” is very disappointing both by its lack of originality and ambition! With regard to originality, the first half of the text is limited to a history of EMU (recalling the significant improvements implemented since the financial crisis) and, as far as the second half is concerned, to updating prior documents, in particular of the “Five Presidents Report” (detailing the road map to be completed). The document doesn’t contain a single new noteworthy proposal or explore avenues to overcome the blockages that currently hinder the implementation of measures that are needed to ensure the…

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Are we the new Sleepwalkers?

Are we the new Sleepwalkers? In a world that has lost its bearings, emotional outpourings are more and more often supplanting rational analysis. Be it in reaction to a terrorist attack (Barcelona) or to the tweets and untimely declarations of Donald Trump (Charlottesville- North Korea), etc., comments concerning these events suggest all too often narrowly focussed solutions which, however sensible they may seem, fail to consider the context in which they are supposed to be implemented. Thus, on the matter of the future of the European Union, there seems to be a developing a consensus on the added value of a common approach in areas such as climate change, the environment, the fight against terrorism and defence while “nationalist” and…

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“Europe: Emmanuel Macron is playing for high stakes!”

(Commentary on “24 hours in question” TV show of August 22nd on LCI.) It was with astonishment that I listened, on August 22nd on French TV, to four so-called specialists debating with unabashed chauvinism the outcome of President Macron’s European engagement which is likely to reflect his overall success or failure. This crucial dossier was considered mainly from the narrow perspective of its impact on the President’s popularity! “Europe: France is playing for high stakes” would have been a far more appropriate title. Indeed, designating EU reform as the key challenge in his presidential program was both risky and worthy of admiration; it is the impact of his policies on France and the EU that is crucial rather than any…

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A Geopolitical Fiction

Chapter I The next crisis will arise from where it is not expected!   April 2017: Erdogan has just won overwhelmingly a referendum that institutes a Presidential (dictatorial) regime in Turkey. In the interval, Donald Trump has settled in the White House and is busy implementing large segments of his program: a cut in taxes and a stimulation of infrastructure investments which have been greeted enthusiastically by stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic. This has completely obliterated the consequences of rising interest rates which have further reinforced the dollar and put the equilibrium of the budgets of several Members of the Eurozone in jeopardy. In this euphoria of financial markets, the protectionist measures instituted by the United States…

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