The United States of Europe: The French Have the Ideas – The Germans the Money

Eric HansenIn an article published by Zeit Online (May 22), the whimsical American journalist Eric T. Hansen (pictured here), who lives in Berlin, referred to last week’s statement by the President of France, François Hollande, who said that during the next two years he would work towards a genuine economic union of the euro zone. Such a union would develop a common economic policy and regulate the various taxation systems. The contours of a political union would soon emerge.

A political union? asks Eric T. Hansen. That would seem rather surprising at this point, but it was by no means a new idea, nor a French one. As early as 1946 Churchill spoke about it, and so have many others since, including Helmut Kohl and Germany’s current minister of finance, Wolfgang Schäuble.

It would mean the formation of a central bank with truly supernational powers. The E.U. constitution, which was set aside in 2004, would have to be revisited, revised and ratified by the member states. A president would be elected who would take over from the existing heads of states.

Is that really possible? Hansen asks. Yes, it is merely a question of a political will. The current crisis could be of immense help. Angela Merkel has said that Europe would only recover from the current crisis if the national banks gave way to a strengthened European central bank.

The German chancellor would become governor. There would be only one passport – a European one. But the members of the federation would retain their own educational systems and their own police forces. International affairs would be in the hands of Brussels. Politically and economically Europe would be strong enough to play in the same league as the USA and China.

Hansen would call this federation “Krautopia” – because the Germans – the krauts would have the last word.

The French, of course, see things differently, says Hansen. That is why Hollande took the initiative last week. The pragmatic Germans may have the money, Hollande implies, but the French have the vision.

Hansen believes that between Germany and France a “good cop/bad cop” relationship may evolve. When international conflicts arise, the French will send the troops. The Germans with their money will clean up the mess and build wind farms.

We saw – so Hansen concludes – the beginnings of this teamwork in Mali.

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