José-Manuel Barroso criticised France and Germany and their project to step up governance of the Euro. Although he may be right in pleading the cause of a supranational institution which defends the common interest in line with the remit he was given by the treaties, he is however wrong. Without the Franco-German couple the Euro Zone would have already collapsed. And it is not the proposals or the creative spirit provided by the present European Commission that enabled its prevention. Experts even say that some of his declarations worsened the stock exchange crisis this summer.
France and Germany may be criticised for many reasions but no one can challenge the fact that they are amongst the leading States which feel responsible for the European project and this is not only for their immediate national interests.
It is precisely this which is most lacking. Many Member States which were not there in the beginning seem to have totally forgotten what the European project is about and think that the Union is simply a free-trade area or a counter where good and bad points are given out with the cash bonuses that go with them. From this point of view the enlargement policy, with its now obsolete Copenhagen criteria, should be completely reviewed. We should only accept into the Union those States which accept a priori the policy of European integration, its foreign and defence policy, their fiscal and budgetary consequences and the ensuing relinquishment of sovereignty. If the
integration process has broken down it is precisely because some Members jealously guard tax systems, which are often unfair in a customs union, their budgets, which diverge too often for economic union and their foreign policy which lacks ambition.
However Germany and France the two countries which pay the most in terms of aid to distressed Member States, decided on 16th August to introduce a joint corporate tax by 2013. They could go further still, and include VAT and income tax, but they alone have taken the only road that will indeed revive the European integration process. Because there can be no single market without common taxation rules, there can be no single currency without joint budgets and agreed discipline; we cannot pool debts without pooling revenues. Just as there can be no Eurobonds without real trust in the institutuion which uses them.
This is why France and Germany should rather be thanked for their action and
encouraged to continue with determination, whilst remaining open to all of those who want to join them. Otherwise the rule in the old French proverb will hold sway - He who pays the piper, calls the tune !