Contribution: The Financial and Euro Crisis, 2011 Dahrendorf Symposium in Berlin
Article first published online: 8 FEB 2013
© 2012 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Special Issue: “Changing the Debate on Europe – the inaugural Dahrendorf Symposium”. Guest Editors: Helmut K. Anheier and Damian Chalmers
Volume 3, Issue Supplement s1, page 51, December 2012
How to Cite
Goulard, S. (2012), Contribution: The Financial and Euro Crisis, 2011 Dahrendorf Symposium in Berlin. Global Policy, 3: 51. doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12018
- Issue published online: 8 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 8 FEB 2013
I am very happy to be here, because it is always a pleasure to be in Berlin, even if I must say that it is very frustrating for me to speak English in Berlin. But I will try. If I may, I would like just to say one word: we should not just say that we have to save the euro. The euro is much more than the euro, and I do not believe that it is sufficient simply to say: ‘Well, we have to save the euro, because if we don’t, chaos will ensue’.
If I remember well, the ‘Unwort des Jahres’, the ‘worst word of the year’, last year in Germany was ‘alternativlos’, ‘there is no alternative’. I consider it very important to take the time even in such a crisis to think a little bit about why we are here and what we want to do together, all together, north and south, the Germans, the Greeks, the Italians and all Europeans from all countries, both inside and outside the eurozone.
In the eurozone we have made a clear common choice, which is to share sovereignty in monetary and economic matters. Nevertheless, sharing sovereignty on these issues means sharing sovereignty on the main political issues of our democratic life. I do not think that my life and my children’s lives will be better if we remain inside the small national French box. I honestly believe that I have a lot to learn from the others and I do not see it as an attack on my sovereignty; I consider myself lucky that the continent in which I live has tried to overcome divisions.
To answer your questions more precisely, in my opinion the first priority in Europe, at least in the eurozone, is to create a democracy at the right level. I am convinced that many citizens are ready to make sacrifices or to change their behaviour, or to adapt, if they have the feeling that they do influence the way decisions are made or at least are able to express a preference. They are Conservative, they are Green, they are Liberal, they are Socialists and they are puzzled when they discover that a body called the European Council makes decisions without having a mandate from all Europeans upon whom their policies will have an impact and without being accountable, in public, for what they do. If we have a place where we discuss together, and that after a public debate we consider that a decision has to be taken – be it to save money or to fight against tax evasion or whatever the decision is – if then, all representatives returns to their country and are able to say: ‘Well, we have decided together. I was there and there were representatives of all the countries concerned, and a decision was taken in public, and we know why they have decided or at least we can try to understand, if we are interested, then we will have changed the face of the euro’.
My feeling is that the rest of the world will never believe in the euro if it does not evolve into a long-lasting project, if Europe, which is based on democratic values, takes decisions without respecting democracy. I do not have the blueprint: no one does. Our duty is to elaborate a new democratic system after in-depth analysis of the causes of the crisis – a systemic political crisis, not just a financial one – and after launching a public debate. Whatever we decide, we have to decide it together, in a cross-border and transparent way.
With 330 million people in the eurozone we should firstly agree that no referendum will be held in any member state. And the Bundestag cannot be given a veto right on European issues. We have to take this group of people, be it one nation or not, as a group of people with a common interest and capable of discussing issues, despite all our diversity. And as you can hear: you can try to convince Germans, even in broken English, I hope.