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Does Macron’s Victory Give Europe a Real Chance?

To take the optimistic case regarding Macron for a moment, though, I want to harken back to a column I wrote last year in the wake of Brexit [1]. Back then, I wrote that Britain’s vote to leave had done Europe “an enormous favor, no matter whether you think “Europe” is a good or bad idea.” Why?

If you think it’s a bad idea, then Britain is about to prove that it is possible to leave and survive. The transition is going to be expensive — Britain will enter a recession in the short term, and the long-term transition may be even more painful than the short, particularly if London cannot retain its position as the financial capital of Europe. But if Britain wants to be a country rather than a city-state, it’s a transition it will have to make at some point. Merely by proving it can be done, Britain will give heart to any other state reconsidering rule from Brussels.

But if you think Europe is a good idea, then you must think it can be made to work. And the only way Europe can work is by becoming a deeper union. The euro can only function if Europe has a common fiscal policy. Europe can only wield diplomatic clout commensurate with its demographic and economic bulk if it has a common defense policy. And Britain was always going to remain the largest, strongest foot-dragger to further cessions of national sovereignty.

What does a “deeper” union mean?

“Deepen” does not necessarily mean becoming a highly centralized, unitary state, much less a homogeneous culture. The United States’ federal system reserves considerable power to the several states; Canada’s federal system reserves even more power to its provinces, as does Germany to its Länder and Switzerland to its cantons. There’s no reason why Europe could not go down a similar path.

To do so, however, its founding members must compromise their conflicting visions of what Europe is supposed to be. Germany is going to have to accept that it has an open-ended responsibility for the welfare of citizens of other European states. Not for the states themselves, much less their leaders — but for their citizens: Germans will have to come to see Greeks as more like Ossis than like Ausländer. And France is going to have to accept that a functional Europe is one in which France is just a large and powerful province rather than an empire of its own.

In other words, a “deeper” union doesn’t need to mean a more highly-regulated or centralized one. But it does mean having a central European government that is directly responsible for and accountable to a European citizenry, a European electorate. In the absence of such responsibility and such accountability, “Europe” becomes a means for the political class to do an end-run around the citizenry of the various European states, and that process is one of the main drivers of right-wing populism across Europe.

Now, with Macron in charge of France and Markel in charge of Germany, you have two emphatically liberal, capitalist, transnationalists in charge of Europe’s core states. Macron even celebrated his victory with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the European anthem, rather than the French anthem, “La Marseillaise.” If these two can’t work together on fixing the structural problems with the design of the E.U., then probably nobody can.

So there’s the counter case to my own case that things are only going to get worse. The advocates of Europe now have their best chance to make their imagined future a reality. They probably deserve a shot.

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10 Comments To "Does Macron’s Victory Give Europe a Real Chance?"

#1 Comment By Brian On May 8, 2017 @ 10:22 am

May 7, 2017 MACRON DEFEATS MARINE LE PEN IN FRENCH ELECTION

I check out the victory party then head outside to meet some supporters to talk about why they like Macron over Le Pen.

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#2 Comment By collin On May 8, 2017 @ 10:24 am

At this point, it appears Euro currency is like the Eagles Hotel California….You can check out but you can never leave. I

Right now, that appears the difference of Brexit versus other EU nations. Since Thatcher decided to keep the pound, it gave them a lot more flexibility in the future.

#3 Comment By home fires On May 8, 2017 @ 10:50 am

If Europe were to have a chance, Merkel and Le Pen would have been best. Le Pen would have increased pressure on Merkel to abandon her uncharacteristically stupid stance on immigration, and Merkel would have managed to keep Le Pen in the EU. Which is what is needed – for the core EU to survive and activate its white blood cells against invasion.

Macron will diddle along as the patent mediocrity he is, relieving pressure on Merkel prematurely and continuing down the path of economic and social rot in France. A corrupt, wasted, Bill Clinton-type presidency.

#4 Comment By Brian On May 8, 2017 @ 11:17 am

May 8, 2017 Intense Tension Building at the Paris Macron Protest

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#5 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On May 8, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

Macron is in the long run probably good for the Euroskeptic cause. He’s seemingly oblivious to the deep, deep problems inherent in economic/cultural/political liberalism as they stand right now, and he’s going to accelerate the contradictions, as they so. Let him go ahead.

For a start, he’s calling for the EU to ‘discipline’ Poland for their political illiberalism and refusal to accept mass immigration. (Never mind that the Law and Justice Party doubled humanitarian aid to the Middle East). Someone like him is going to force Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, etc. to decide whether they want to be in (with all that means in terms of surrendering internal political sovereignty, ethnic identity, control over foreign policy and migration) or whether they want to be out. My guess is in the long run they’re going to say ‘out’. It’s better for the European Union to be run by straight-up neoliberal ideologues who are honest about their demands, than about people who are willing to split the difference and tempt weaker countries to stay by offering concessions.

#6 Comment By G Harvey On May 8, 2017 @ 12:06 pm

France will either repent of The Revolution and re-embrace being First Daughter of the Church., or France will be raped and murdered to death by Moslems. African animists, and assorted atheists.

Michel Houellebecq nailed it: either Frenchmen will bow to Christ or submit to Mohammedans, with Arabic replacing French eventually.

The ‘neutral’ of secularist agnosticism leads ineluctably to either Leftist totalitarianism or Islamization.

#7 Comment By Philipp On May 8, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

The EU and Europe are not the same thing. If you don’t grasp that, you should not be writing articles about either the EU nor Europe.

#8 Comment By philadelphialawyer On May 8, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

“Macron even celebrated his victory with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy,’ the European anthem, rather than the French anthem, ‘La Marseillaise.’”

The “Ode to Joy” was played when Macron came out to take his first bows, but at that same election night victory rally, the band played “La Marseillaise” and the entire new first family sang along emphatically, with their hands on their hearts.

#9 Comment By Brian On May 8, 2017 @ 6:12 pm

Jul 18, 2016 The European Union: Part of America’s Imperial Project

The British people’s decision to leave the European Union shocked the political establishment across Europe and around the globe. Now, Professor Michel Chossudovsky exposes the EU as the imperial project that it always was, and the growing movement against EU domination as an anti-imperial movement of world historical importance.

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#10 Comment By Jaka On May 13, 2017 @ 6:51 pm

EU = RVHP 2.0