The divided identities of France and Germany threaten Europe’s future

IIt is no secret that European fans are on the outskirts of the continent, worried about whether Emmanuel Macron will win today’s game. French presidential election. His rival, Marine Le Pen, is openly ready to destroy the EU in order to promote his vision of a reincarnated authoritarian and nationalist France, which is even ready to be a strategic partner of Russia. The EU’s ability to develop both internally and externally, as well as the mountain challenges facing the continent without reducing the war in Ukraine, will be crucial. The unity of the West will be the same.

It looks like Macron will. But British pessimists fear the EU is dangerous in the long run. Are we talking about inflation, the cost of living crisis, breastfeeding? Europe  By avoiding Russian rule, adhering to a common line against Vladimir Putin or defending EU values ​​from attacks by right-wing populists, the EU faces the worst challenges since World War II – the structures that best meet this goal.

In France, the re-election of Macron in 2027 is constitutionally prohibited. With the disintegration of the traditional left and right “republican” parties, Le Pen or the successor will have a real chance to confront the enemy with less confidence and a sense of work than Macron. Much of French policy now depends on developed French economic activity, which is showing the right visible benefits – and less than what the EU sees as a source of strength.

Here, the newly elected Macron will need the unwavering support of Germany for his deep-rooted pro-European beliefs, surrounded by his own tensions and demons. Build newspaperChristine Lagarde, director of the European Central Bank, Germany’s best-selling right-wing newspaper, called it “Madame Inflation” because inflation in the eurozone is 7.5%, while 86-year-old hawk Otmer Issing, a supporter of European prices Stability, says. They are guilty.

German inflation has not been high for more than 70 years. High inflation in the 1920s opened the door for Hitler. Other Europeans may applaud the successes of liberal capitalism and democracy in post-war Germany, but the Germans themselves fear that the achievements are dangerous and could easily summon old demons – paradoxically because of the EU they hold in high esteem.

Last May, then-German Finance Minister and now Supreme Olaf Scholes welcomed the EU government’s ambitious ongoing stimulus package. “Hamilton’s moment” of Europe. As Alexander Hamilton, the first US Treasury Secretary, launches a federal guarantee, EU member states will guarantee the issuance of unprecedented European securities to invest in green and digital technologies, as well as social recourse measures to better manage future epidemics. Government loans to stabilize the newly formed United States. Macron, who was fighting for finances, was no less excited. The EU has shown its skills; Rubicon passed. If he wins, make sure Macron returns.

But the war in Ukraine and epic inflation are shaking Germany. As German criticism of the European Central Bank plunges the EU’s financial system into cheap money, it seems less prudent to write off EU securities – now the country must leave. Exceptional cost of automatic production of Russian oil and gas. He opposes the immediate embargo imposed by the European Union on Russian oil and gas imports; Economy Minister Robert Holbeck warned that this would lead to “mass unemployment, poverty, people who will not be able to heat their homes and run out of gas.”

But even a gradual embargo announced soon by the EU risks reducing Germany’s recession and living standards. Germany must simultaneously finance its own energy transfer and its broader defense structure. The Hamiltonian, which Macron and the rest of Europe desperately need, will be less eager to act at EU level. Fudge and the ongoing rise of right-wing populism are real.

Except, by the way. British comments on Europe always focus on what is wrong – rarely on what is right. Yes, there are deeper challenges in France, Germany and the EU. But these challenges are relatively modest, with the exception of unspeakable Trumpism and Britain, which is facing Brexit-induced trade declines, an investment crisis, a local stalemate and a constitutional stalemate. What is striking about the EU is that, unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, it has a center. The big political classes in France and Germany, as well as in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries, know that the EU is an important stronghold. And they stand on it.

After a great start, the EU has stood up to the government, and much more than Britain, as a coalition political body. Fewer deaths; Powerful immunization programs; Better support for severely affected and less developed countries. EU recovery plan It was This is a Hamiltonian moment and a stimulus to great thinking about investment policy in Europe for decades.

The European Central Bank may have misjudged inflationary pressures, as did the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. In Europe, this pressure is likely to ease as the euro balance contributes to the strength of the currency, while inflationary pressures in the UK are likely to continue as the recent collapse of the pound sterling accelerates with our weakened economy. The decline in British trade shows the value of the EU’s single market, while tough European measures to further control the presence of Facebook and Google on their sites cannot be implemented by one country. Moreover, Russia’s potential achievements in southern and eastern Ukraine underscore the need to maintain a single EU.

European leaders know all this. The big crisis is not in the EU, it will solve its problems thanks to this political will. It was a very slow process of overthrowing Brexit and overthrowing the Prime Minister, who is misleading the House of Commons, on which the integrity of British democracy depends. If Macron wins, it will be a signal that Europe is getting worse – Britain has not yet reached the bottom.

Will Hutton is an Observer columnist

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