The ECB’s Belgian member Peter Praet has an interview with the Portuguese Jornal de Negócios with the following exchange:
Jornal de Negócios: The rules of the fiscal compact, namely the debt reduction rule, imply primary surpluses of 3% to 4% of GDP every year for decades in Portugal and other economies. Few countries have achieved this for more than a few years. People are asking whether it is feasible.
Praet: It is feasible. The question is whether the country will continue with the reforms and will be able to increase its potential growth. Otherwise, it will indeed be very difficult to achieve. I come from a country where we had around 6% of primary surplus and it was sustained for a number of years. But it is more difficult to reach a primary surplus than to sustain it.
I have occasionally come across leftists and Europhiles who claimed there is no such thing as national identity, that it’s a kind of really, really stubborn optical illusion. The people in charge of Europe have often shown more common sense. Jacques Delors for example argues for a “Federation of Nation-States” as his ideal and ECB President Mario Draghi is keenly aware of the problems posed by the lack of a common national identity in the eurozone.
It’s no secret that I personally find the arguments of thinkers like Raymond Aron in favor of the democratic and cohesive Nation-State to be highly compelling.
Appearing on the radio station France Inter on Monday (19 January), Marine Le Pen was asked about a recent video statement from fellow Front National (FN) MEP Aymeric Chauprade that, in light of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, France was “at war with Muslims.” Interestingly, Le Pen chose to distance herself from her colleague’s comments:
The responsibility of a political movement is precisely to avoid the escalatory spiral [engrenage] of the clash of civilizations. It is very easy to theorize this clash of civilizations and it is very easy to submit oneself to this idea. I find it horrifying.
So I think when one is doing politics precisely one should avoid this clash of civilizations. And here the Nation-State has a fundamental role to play. And the geopolitical choices that we [the French government] have made in the past have been dramatic. And I repeat it because we fought a lot on this set [of the radio station] on the intervention in Libya, on the intervention in Syria. I think I can say that the analysis I made at the time, alone against all, was the correct one. We have given the keys to these countries or these struggles to Islamist fundamentalists, who we helped, maintained, financed, armed. Today we are also to a great extent suffering the consequences.
There are few things which are as little understood outside of France as the strange and remarkable career of the Franco-Cameroonian comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala. This is evident even from the more eloquent defenders of Dieudonné’s right to free speech, such as the formidable American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first assumed he was a Muslim.
Many have denounced the hypocrisy of France and the world’s massive celebration free speech following the horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre, only to immediately arrest Dieudonné for… a Facebook post. Asad AbuKhalil argued:
So Dieudonne was arrested. I bet you that none of those who chanted “I am Charlie” will dare say “I am Dieudonne”–not even if Dieudonne was assassinated. This episode about Charlie Hebdo proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, one more time, that in the West not all forms of hate and bigotry are treated equally, and that hate against Muslim is quite respectable. Insults against Jews are treated as far worse than insults against Muslims, and no one in Western society would be caught–even if his/her life depended on it–supporting the freedom of speech for anti-Semites. As for me, I am neither Charlie nor Dieudonne as I detest them both.
Redwane Hajaoui and Tarik Jadaoun, two “chances pour la Belgique” who recently returned from Syria, and were killed in a gunfight with police.
Bleri Lleshi has another interesting piece in the EUobserver, this time linking terrorism to poverty and injustice.
From the latest Eurobarometer poll (see also its statistical annex):
For more than half of Europeans, the statement “immigration of people from other EU Member States” evokes a positive feeling (52%), while for 41% it evokes a negative feeling. Overall, this statement is seen positively in 21 Member States, led by the Nordic countries – Sweden (82%), Finland (76%), Denmark (69%) – and Luxembourg (72%).
The results are quite different in the case of immigration from outside the EU: this evokes a positive feeling for around a third of Europeans (35%) and a negative feeling for a majority (57%). In 23 EU Member States, a majority of the population have a negative view of the “immigration of people from outside the EU”.
Shortly after telling France24 what “deflation” is, French ECB Executive Board member Benoît Cœuré gave an interview to the German daily Die Welt. Money quote, when asked whether the euro could survive “as a currency without a State”:
The euro can certainly survive. But the system would always be fragile. We would have to get used to there can always be crises in one country with contagion in others. If we want to make progress, we need a common economic policy that also covers the field of structural reform.
ECB officials and euro-experts seem to want a Eurozone Superstate which would, at least, decide labor reforms and budget deficits in common. Some kind of a substantial federal budget, perhaps to fund an unemployment scheme, would be an unlikely bonus. Actually passing such a “federal leap,” with the 28 constitutional reforms it would require, is no small matter however.
On the other hand, attachment to the euro is strong in most countries, despite the crisis. Perhaps the common currency can be thought as a joint mortgage: Some common skin in the game, a promise to stick together without warring, a commitment to build something (probably a government, eventually, let’s not be too explicit about it).
You could have prevented this. You only had to listen.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has used a free speech rally to argue against non-European immigration. Apparently he thought the murder of aged leftist cartoonists by “homegrown” violent Islamists somehow showcased some of the downsides of multiculturalism.
With the recent events in France, it can seem a bit trivial to focus on this ECB minutiae. I’ll have time to comment on the attacks and what seems to me to be the creeping normalization of the Front National at a later date. In the meantime, die Show muss weitergehen.