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Dancing on the edge of the abyss

The spectacle given by the Europeans as they face the Greek crisis is a true disaster.

Legitimate discussions are taking place in front of the whole world and concern is spreading; their differences of opinion are turning into division, whilst everyone knows, that at the end of the day, Europe will help Greece. We're trying to scare one another, and it's dangerous. This allows them to avoid real discussions.

A new egotism  is engulfing the continent, which in various forms of populism - extremism and withdrawal - is leading citizens towards protecting what they have before thinking about what they might build and share together in the future.  Paralysed by this, the leaders of Europe are refusing to address the only real challenge: how do we move towards real federalism, that has become obligatory since the introduction of our federal currency, the euro,  which is now demanded by the financial markets and whose logic alone  makes it pertinent?

We need a real European budget to facilitate European investment and support common policies, whilst what we get from Brussels is simply punitive and boils down to technical IMF formulae - which are necessary of course - but not enough. With a budget accounting for 1% of its GDP Europe is impotent. It has to plan now for the progressive growth of its collective means, until the day its budget totals more than 20% of its wealth. It is the only way to implement an economic and social policy that gives us reason to hope.

We need common, strict budgetary rules, the non-respect of which will be sanctioned automatically and immediately, but which can work alongside common, national budgetary decisions in terms of investment, research and innovation. Before achieving a true common European budget, we shall have to pool our national budgets, converging them.

We need a European Secretary of State for the Treasury - the only one allowed to speak of and decide on the main guidelines of the economic and budgetary policy. He would chair the Ecofin, the meeting of Finance Ministers. He would represent Europe, or the euro, in international economic bodies. Appointed by the Heads of State and government, they will only be able to dismiss him after a certain length of time; he would be independent but politically responsible; he would have to be accountable for his decisions before public opinion and the elected parliaments.

This would comprise a real revolution in the European integration process.

Obviously these decisions would be difficult to assume from a political point of view and they would deserve a real democratic process to be taken. They represent a risk for those who would take them, but in all events, most leaders in office are, or will be, punished by the crisis!

By making a simple announcement that this kind of thought is being examine between the European leaders, there is hope in overcoming the present situation. By taking them later, there is a chance to avoid it for a long time.

If these decisions are not taken we're dancing on the edge of the abyss.

In a way we have a choice: deciding before falling or being forced to do it into the chasm.