Finally Europe was a theme in the French presidential campaign – but, my goodness, how it was spoken of!
The European Union has become a pretext for all types of fear, emotions and anxiety, as well as claims, which are firstly – and we understand this – the responsibility of the French government.
Criticising some policies is legitimate but these are certainly not the cause of France’s poor results. In 2016 European growth rose to 1.9%, which was higher than that of the USA (1.6%) and that of France is well below this (1.1%) and the results of our closest neighbours.
Therefore, is it is urgent for the French economy to be revived, in response to the high expectations of whole swathes of the population, who deem themselves to have been relegated, mistreated, and neglected in the name of globalisation.
Everywhere across the world extremist response has failed and has only led to more misery, inequality and insecurity – and even autocratic excesses. The French cannot ignore this as they go to vote on 7th May or as they abstain in protest against the world economy. Abstention is not an option, it is cowardice.
The eyes of the world are on France, which occupies a specific place in Europe. And especially those of the autocrats are watching us – Putin, Al-Assad, Maduro, Erdogan and even Kim Jung Un have deemed it necessary to express their opinion – likewise the dormant fascists on the far right in the USA, in Europe and elsewhere, as they express their choice on the social networks, damaging the image of the moderate candidate who opposes their action.
Because, in their eyes he has one major fault: he is European! And Europe is the only political entity that can regulate the crazy world economy and resist the economic giants, whose market capitalisation is sometimes equal to that of France’s annual budget. We can say that it does not do enough, but Europe is synonymous to regulation!
If France chooses extremism, it will be immediately isolated in Europe, within the G7 and the G20 and in the UN. It would have no opportunity to influence the course of affairs, whilst only a President who believes in it can give France its voice back in Europe. This is what is expected of it. Its voice will be heard. France has its own message to communicate and embodies a social, supportive model, freedom and dynamism.
Leaving Europe or the euro means exiting history. It means exclusion. It also means offering oneself a purely national economic crisis, which will hurt people’s savings and impoverish the poorest. The euro is synonymous to stability, low interest rates – it means renewed sovereignty instead of constant devaluation that leads to the ruin of the most vulnerable.
Reclaiming Europe, reviving it, reshaping it, taking full part in it – that is the defence of our national interests; it means taking part in regulating a dangerous world.
In a troubled France that is divided, irritated, tense, the apparently complex choice to be made can be summarised with a simple equation: in the first round we choose, in the second, we eliminate.
The French do not have to choose violence and lies, financial crisis and isolation that are linked to the unknowns of the extremist adventure. They can vote for a President who embodies a new generation, renewal, recommitment by France in Europe, with our partners – the first of these being Germany. Discussing rather than arguing, sharing rather than fighting, this is what we need. Rebooting France and Europe – it is both possible and vital for those who are suffering and for those who are angry. This is a project in which the French should be participating.
We should remind the critics that alone, we shall surely fail. To those who doubt, we should say that they cannot miss this opportunity to regulate an economy, which needs regulating. To those who still hesitate, in spite of the danger on our doorstep, we should shout out loud that France is beautiful when it is open, European, active and generous - that only one young, moderate candidate, who is at the confluence of the old parties, can offer a modern government that takes each and every one of us into account - a president who will dispel the old European quarrel efficiently and with pride in a France that is positioned at the spearhead, which can write itself a new future.