Mrs Merkel and her “contracts”

Paper kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia.

It is remarkable, and indeed symptomatic, that Mrs Merkel, the Chancellor now heading a so-called « big coalition » government, could state in the press on the subject of the Euro, on December 19, without arousing much emotion, that : « Sooner or later, the currency will explode, if the necessary cohesion is lacking. » [1]. At first glance, such a statement is perfectly accurate. In the absence of “cohesion,” that is, without an extremely important system of financial transfers being put in place, the Euro is not viable. The fact is known, and several authors have calculated the sums needing to be dedicated in order for such a federal system to work. As for myself, I have estimated the amount which Germany would need to provide to between 8% et 10% of its GNP[2]. It is perfectly obvious that it cannot do so without destroying its economic “model” and, from this point of view, asking Germany for an effort of « solidarity » on behalf of the countries of Southern Europe to the tune of 220 to 232 billion euros per year (at 2010 prices) is tantamount to asking it to commit suicide[3].

Yet it is the rest of her statement which is particularly interesting. Mrs Merkel, who is perfectly conscious of the fact that the countries of the Eurozone are balking in the face of new surrenders of their sovereignty, then proposes “contracts” between them and Germany. In fact, this would result in building, to the side of the European institutions, another institutional system in which, contracts having force of law for the Germans, the various countries would be linked to Germany in a binding manner. One can well see the interest of such a formula. Mrs Merkel nurtures no illusions about the existence of some “European people.” She knows very well how the Constitutional Court of Karlsruhe is standing on this matter, its decision of June 30, 2009 having been illuminating[4]. It is important to understand that, for the court in Karlsruhe, the EU remains an international organization of a derived order, for States remain the masters of treaties[5]. From this point of view, clearly, Germany does not share, and will not share in the near future, in any woolly conception about a European “federalism.” To Germans leaders, in the absence of a European “people,” and logically if one takes into consideration the German concept of what is a “people,” there can be no such thing as a supra-national State. On the other hand, The European Union and the Eurozone can exert a derived power. But, from this perspective, Germany can just as well. And this is the meaning of the « contracts » proposed by Mrs Merkel to her partners. In exchange for a guarantee of sovereignty, for you will have “freely” accepted these “contracts,” you will commit yourself to the respect of certain binding rules within a contractual frame linking you with Germany.

The matter of the banking union, much tooted recently, confirms this approach. In the fall of 2012, the countries of the South of the Eurozone had, in concert with France, wrested away the principle of a “Banking Union,” which was to be both a surveillance mechanism and a regulation mechanism for the banks of the Eurozone, as well as a mechanism securing a concerted management of banking crises. The ink on this agreement was hardly dry that Germany did all it could to empty it of its substance. And, of course, it succeeded. The agreement, signed in the night of December 18 to 19, 2013, which had been hailed by some as a «decisive step for the Euro,” [6], has solved strictly nothing[7]. The supervision mechanism affects only 128 banks among the 6000 which are counted in the Eurozone. As to the crises resolution fund, it will reach its amount of 60 billion, which is ridiculously low anyway, only in… 2026!

What is one to conclude from all this?

First, it is pointless to continue investing any hopes in a « really » federal Europe, and it is deeply deceptive to go on presenting such a possibility as an alternative to the EU as it is functioning today. Now. This is a profoundly misleading discourse, and it can only contribute today to drag us a little bit further down into our misfortune. There will be no federal Europe because in reality nobody wants it and nobody is inclined to make it. So that opposing a hypothetical “federal perspective,” the probability of which is less than that of Martians landing, to the present situation is no longer making any sense, except fooling people and pulling one over their heads. The federalist dream reveals itself to be a nightmare. It’s time to wake up.

Second, Germany is perfectly conscious of the fact that some form of federalism is necessary to the survival of the Euro, but it does not want to pay the price, and this is entirely understandable. Therefore, what it is proposing in fact to its partners, are « contracts » which will lead them to carry the totality of the cost of the adjustments necessary to the survival of the Euro when, in fact, Germany alone will draw the benefits of the single currency. But these « contracts » will drag Southern Europe and France into a historic recession, out of which they can only emerge industrially and socially laminated. To accept such contracts will be the rapid death of France of the countries of Southern Europe. Laurent Faibis and Olivier Passet recently published a tribune in Les Échos which needs to be read attentively [8]. They explain why the Euro can only profit to one country, which has put itself up at the head of the industrial chain, and why, instead of putting the Euro to the service of the economy, it is the economy which is sacrificed for the sake of the Euro. Such a situation would be made durable if we should have the misfortune to have a government agreeing to pass under the yoke of Mrs Merkel’s « contracts.”

Third, one must hear what remains unspoken, what is implicit in the statement of Mrs Merkel. As a federal Europe is not possible and is in reality not even conceivable from a German standpoint, and if a move into “coherence,” meaning nothing else but a total acceptance of German conditions, does not come to happen, then Germany is ready to give up on the Euro. Mrs Merkel would like to make out of this alternative a threat to force us to surrender to the idea of her « contracts. » In the contrary, with must take her by her word and propose to her as fast as possible the dissolution of the Eurozone. But, in order to do this, we will need another government, and another Prime Minister than the ones we have.

In a way, Mrs Merkel’s statements are unheard of. Maybe for the first time since 1945, a German leader reveals as bluntly a project of domination of Europe by Germany. But these same declarations have the enormous advantage to throw a bright light onto our own situation. We should remember it and draw inspiration from it for the next European elections. Not in order to obey Mrs Merkel, but to take her by her word and to tell her that we are through with her Euro!


[1] P. Ricard, Le Monde, 21/12/2013/ URL : http://www.lemonde.fr/acces restreint/europe/article/2013/12/21/6d68659e68686cc594676269619671_4338534_3214.html

[2] J. Sapir, « Le coût du fédéralisme dans la zone Euro », in RussEurope, 10 November 2012, http://russeurope.hypotheses.org/453

[3] Patrick Artus, « La solidarité avec les autres pays de la zone euro est-elle incompatible avec la stratégie fondamentale de l’Allemagne : rester compétitive au niveau mondial ? La réponse est oui », NATIXIS, Flash-Économie, n°508, 17 July 2012.

[4] http://etoile.touteleurope.eu/index.php/post/2009/07/02/Karlsruhe-%3A-le-peuple-europeen-nexiste-pas

[5] M-L Basilien-Gainche, L’ALLEMAGNE ET L’EUROPE. REMARQUES SUR LA DECISION DE LA COUR CONSTITUTIONNELLE FEDERALE RELATIVE AU  TRAITE DE LISBONNE, CERI-CNRS, November 2009, http://www.sciencespo.fr/ceri/sites/sciencespo.fr.ceri/files/art_mbg.pdf

[6] See the ridiculous and misleading editorial « Union bancaire : un bon accord qui corrige les failles de la zone euro » in Le Monde, of 19 December 2013. URL : http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2013/12/19/un-bon-accord-qui-corrige-les-failles-de-la-zone-euro_4337259_3232.html

[7] D. Plihon, « Union bancaire: une réforme en trompe l’œil » , La Tribune, 23 December 2013, http://www.latribune.fr/opinions/tribunes/20131223trib000802542/union-bancaire-une-reforme-en-trompe-l-oeil.html

[8] L. Faibis et O. Passet, « L’euro pour tous et chacun pour soi : le nouveau débat interdit »,  Les Échos, 23 December 2013, http://m.lesechos.fr/idees-et-debats/le-point-de-vue-de/l-euro-pour-tous-et-chacun-pour-soi-le-nouveau-debat-interdit-0203193619902.htm

 


Jacques Sapir

Ses travaux de chercheur se sont orientés dans trois dimensions, l’étude de l’économie russe et de la transition, l’analyse des crises financières et des recherches théoriques sur les institutions économiques et les interactions entre les comportements individuels. Il a poursuivi ses recherches à partir de 2000 sur les interactions entre les régimes de change, la structuration des systèmes financiers et les instabilités macroéconomiques. Depuis 2007 il s’est impliqué dans l’analyse de la crise financière actuelle, et en particulier dans la crise de la zone Euro.

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