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27 janvier 2013 7 27 /01 /janvier /2013 22:45


The common opinion is  that, fifty years after the signing of the Franco-German Treaty of friendship and cooperation by De Gaulle and Adenauer, the Franco-German relationship is no longer  what it was. The repeated European summits where appear continuous differences between the governments of the two countries on how to save the euro fuel the idea that there is something broken in this special relationship. In France, is also spreading the feeling that now Germany imposes his point of view, ant that between the two partners, the part would be less  equal.

Those who defend this position stay  within the framework of a classic vision of politics  where each country   defends  its own  interest as  things were going in the first thirty years that followed the treaty.

Starting from common assumptions: common market, unique agricultural prices etc., both countries (and others) were negotiating each year a   compromise on the basis of   their real interests, without anyone fully imposing his point of view. Related to the agricultural price was the intermittent readjustment of the parity between the franc and the mark. This practice has enabled during tenth of years continuous and more or less balanced growth of the two economies.

The euro: a new deal

The euro has changed the situation.

The introduction of a unique currency between the two countries - and other fifteen, appeared  to represent a major progress of the cooperation. Though, the euro is   today the main bone of contention  between the two countries. It changes in all cases the nature of their relation that no longer has anything to do with   a classic negotiation.

We hear in France that the euro benefits more to   Germany than France despite it comes in the beginning from a French initiative. Managed as strictly as it was the mark, it indeed allows Germany to benefit from its measures of reforms that gives positive balances with regard to all its partners, including  France. Yet the French Government (Holland as well as Sarkozy) is no less attached than the German Government to the survival of the euro. And the German industry is by no way  less sensitive to the deficit of competitiveness vis-a-vis the rest of the world caused by the way the euro is managed. Both countries are affected by the weakening of their industry, though this fundamental issue never comes under discussion in European summits.

The difference between both is on how to save the euro, though,   in the end, it is not known if it benefits to either country. But then again it would be pointless to consider each defends its "steak".

Mr Draghi has understood it and draws little by little the consequences: after 12 years of relax management their public finances and their production costs by most euro area countries, including France, the experience of the common currency may go on  only through a progressive inflation through progression creation of money.

A role-play  more than a negotiation

It follows a diplomatic role play that it would be wrong to confuse with a substantive discussion or negotiation on real  interests.

With the option "lax", the only bearable  by all (which takes the form in France of a plea for pump-priming measures, that whatever we do is the opposite of austerity, the French Government has a positive attitude. The German Government eager to save the euro but held by a domestic opinion that any form of inflation is horror, resists every time... to the point where he is  obliged to yield to allow the euro to be maintained . He obtains by pressure the commitments of virtue on behalf of its Latin partners that we know that they will not be enhanced and that , anyways,  are not liable  to save the euro. These commitments give the impression that Germany imposes his point of view, but this  is largely illusory and even if it  was the case, the German government is less defending the  real  interest of Germany  than giving satisfaction  to his public opinion.

Thus the efforts of one and the other country come together, in a climate of conflict, to maintain a system that is in the interest of none. History of fools !  The one preached the revival, the other the rigour. It is likely that they will get  the opposite:  stagnation and inflation . But each has taken vis-à-vis its voters the role they expect.

For fifty years, the "natural" rate of inflation, a strong data conditioned by history and the sociology of each country differed between the France and the Germany (but less than between others), it was futile to expect that they would converge in ten years of experience of the common currency. Every month that passes,   the economies of the European countries, among them the French and the German, are keeping away from one another until   the option of an adjustment of the parities be reopened, which means the rupture of the euro in its present form.

Far from representing the end of the Franco-German cooperation, rupture of the euro could, on the contrary, restart on sounder bases: instead of  a gesticulation to save a myth, the  collaborative research of the real common interest,   particularly through exchanges evenly balanced between the two partners, the preservation of their agricultural and industrial potential. Common interests between France and Germany being largely more important than their differences the friendship between our two countries would be consolidated.

 Roland HUREAUX 



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