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AB 2000 studies

Alain Boublil Blog


The French elections and Europe

French people will elect its next President of the Republic April 10th and 24th  Only the two tops candidates after the 1st round will be present in the 2nd round. The electoral campaign occurs in an unprecedented context. The media attention is focused on the war in Ukraine. Comments regarding this election everyday are about the results of the last poll opinion and the candidates ranking, as if it was about the Tour de France, and about their personality. When they are interviewed, they are questioned first about their comments on actuality and much more rarely about their programs. For the first time, economy is not at the center of the debate.

For few days, the purchasing power issue came back in top position with the prices increases provoked by the supplying difficulties linked to the aftereffects of the sanitary crisis and to the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The answers given by the candidates are consisting in an enumeration of a list of checks given to a more or less share of the population. The consistency of the proposed policies to the voters is not questioned in a deep way. All the same, France is not yet gone out from these two major crisis. No fundamental debate has been proposed to the candidates in order they expressed themselves about their proposals and the ability of them to answer to the challenges to which the country is confronted with.

If the figures about growth and employment can be hailed, it is essentially because their improvement comes from a past situation highly deteriorated. To the opposite, the accumulation of deficits has generated a strong rise of the public indebtedness and the combined effect of the fossil fuels prices increase and of the country de-industrialization process has provoked a huge foreign trade deficit. In the past, such a situation lead first to a strong increase of the interest rates to protect the country currency and if that was not enough, the only recourse was to appeal the International Monetary Fund support. Only the United States only which have always had a huge twin deficit, because they had at their disposal the currency with which most of the transactions were made, have been protected against these risks. The creation of the euro has also allowed the State-members, with France at a first position, not to have to cope with that situation.

But the electoral campaign, instead of focusing itself on these essential issues, is more about the candidate personalities than about their ability to revive the challenges to which the country is confronted with. Comments which come after their interventions are essentially interested in their capacity to seduce voters. In particular, the lack of a real debate on the consistency between the economic program of the far-right candidate and her positions on the European issues carries the risk to deprive voters of essential informations.

During the debate before the second round of the 2017 presidential election, the incapacity of Marine Le Pen to formalize the conditions of the exit from the euro zone, which was an essential point of her program, had been considered as the explanation of the poor judgement of the T.V. spectators on her performance and the main cause of her defeat the following Sunday. That time the candidate seems to have drawn the lessons of that and affirms that this proposal is not anymore in her program. But that doesn’t impeach her to formulate proposals which are in opposition of the rules which today are applied in the Union.

First she announces that she will reestablish border controls for foods under the pretext to fight against frauds. But this proposal goes against one of the fundamental principles of the Unique Market. It is to the countries which have borders with non-members countries to proceed to these controls. Between two States-members, it is impossible. To put unilateraly into question this rule is able to create a major crisis with Brussels and with our neighbors, a crisis which would in the first time generate retorsion measures, which, in this current context, France doesn’t need.

The new restrictions the far-right candidate proposes to institute are also regarding persons, with, in the reality, the exit from the Shengen Agreement and the instauration of border controls on the European citizens. Worst, through the limitation to French citizens of the access to public services of to social benefits, it is introduced a discrimination which violates the European law, able to generate pursuits, as what is today happening with Poland.

At last, Marine Le Pen wants to introduce the principle of the superiority of the national law against the European law, in the name of the sovereignty. But the even essence of the European project is a shared sovereignty whose every one would be the benefactor. Regarding foreign exchanges, that means putting in question all what has been built for sixty years. French enterprises have built their supply and production chains inside the unique market to feed it in the best conditions. For many enterprises, the return to them has all the chances to be fatal.

How in these conditions, when many conflicts will emerge with our partners as with Brussels, is it possible to imagine that France will be able to stay inside the Union and so to keep the euro? The most surprising, and the most disappointing, it is that these major contradictions inside the program of the representative of the Rassemblement National, have been so poorly evocated. In 2017, it was the inability to define the process of an eventual exit of the euro zone, which had decisively hurt the campaign of the candidate. But today, time have changed and the issue is even more crucial. If France has been able to adopt the “whatever it costs” policy, to cope with the sanitary crisis, it is thanks the existence of the euro and to the European Central Bank action.

French economy as that one of its partners has been fragilized and the situation became worst with the war in Ukraine; Any doubt about France European commitments would be able to hurt even more its economy. In the poll opinions it is observed for some days a reduction of the gap in the vote intentions between the outgoing president and the far-right candidate. This trend is not limited to France because in Hungry, Victor Orban who belongs to the same political family, has been by large re-elected. The financial market worry starts to be felt. The long-term rates increase has accelerated with, on April 6th, the 10-years OAT was at 1.17%, due to the increase of the spread with the German bond which is now over 50 basis points.

The program of the candidate of the Rassemblement National is incompatible with France staying inside the European Union and the euro-zone. The parallel with the United Kingdom choice and the Brexit when an eventual “Frexit” doesn’t make sense because precisely, this country did not belong to the euro zone and had only to free itself from the common rules and to introduce new regulations which were governing its rapports with the Union which, is not yet fully put into operation. The prospect of a France exit from the euro would start a major financial crisis. After the “yellow jackets”, the Covid-19 and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, is it really what the country needs?          





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