If the hegemonic need of the Germans derives from the existential choice of theWillingness to make sacrifices (see The Bild, the Schadenfreude of the Germans and the Coronabonds), the genesis of the French has a completely different genesis.
Their belief that they are the most direct heirs of the Greco-Latin civilization or at least its major custodians at least since the modern age, is sealed by the advent of theEnlightenment, which the transalpines believe, rightly or wrongly, to exclusively emanate their cultural production. After the dark centuries of religious obscurantism, the recovery of the centrality of man with his critical intellect and his "illuminating" reason, undoubtedly corresponds to the recovery and exaltation of classical civilization. And although Enlightenment thought originated in England, it is indisputable that in France it had its greatest development and it was the works of French philosophers and thinkers that spread it throughout continental Europe. The French revolution and Napoleon's armies then completed the work of demolishing the old feudal Europe on the ground, giving rise to modern Western society, of which the French, rightly or wrongly, consider themselves moral fathers.
They then added political hegemony to the cultural primacy with the construction of a great intercontinental empire, which throughout the nineteenth century competed with the British for world supremacy.
The progressive loss of the role of superpower recorded throughout the course of the twentieth century was not welcomed with serenity and resignation by the French; tenacious and pugnacious by nature, they lead their own personal and fierce daily battle, at all levels, to contrast Anglo-American cultural, political and military hegemony and recover that role of first-rank power that, in their opinion, belongs to them , because conferred by history.
What is the first and most striking manifestation of such an imperial heritage, frustrated by the perception of an unconsciously rejected decadence? There Size. Which is above all frustration, but at the same time exorcising the trauma of decline, therefore the need to show the world - and above all to themselves - to still be a leading imperial power bearing the political and cultural guidelines. On the other hand, this identity character of the French soul emerges, if not openly, at least between the lines of all the speeches of the presidents of the republic.
With this in mind, the European project of the immediate post-war period meant for De Gaulle's France the construction of a new entity, with a natural French guide - because it was the winning power of the war, as well as the only economic and military power of the community of the time. - that for political and economic dimension one day he could compete with the two superpowers, USA and USSR. Reason why De Gaulle has always opposed the entry into the then EEC of London, considered as the "Trojan horse" of the USA.
However, this was not only the Gaullist vision of European construction. With the inauguration of the first socialist president in 1981, France of Mitterand has relaunched the Size precisely by accelerating European integration with the establishment of the Franco-German axis; the aim was the pursuit of those strategic geo-political objectives, which were precluded after the loss of the colonies and the dissolution of the empire.
After two years of expansive Keynesian fiscal and monetary policies, in total contrast to the liberal austerity policies of Beyond the Rhine, which then led to three successive devaluations of the French franc against the German mark, Mitterand found himself at a crossroads: continue with expansionary policies and exit the SME: (The European Monetary System, the father of the euro) or anchor the franc to the mark and align with German economic policies. Mitterand chose the second path, inaugurating the "Penalty Plan" and that Franco-German axis which since then would have governed Europe politically and economically up to the present day. IS when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Kohl manifested to Europe the will to reunify Germany, the reactions of Thatcher and of Mitterand they were diametrically opposed. While the former did everything to avoid it, the latter, who considered it inevitable, imposed on Kohl the exchange he thought best for French power politics: the right to reunification would be recognized in exchange for the sale of monetary sovereignty, therefore economic and political. Kohl accepted, although the renunciation of the mark, the only element of patriotic pride in post-Nazi Germany, was a great sacrifice for the elite and the German people.
Reunification of Germany in exchange for an increasingly integrated French-led Europe, Mitterand's project, which England - not only thatcherian - saw as a dangerous threat to the global domination of the Anglo-American axis.
However Mitterand's France conceded too much to Kohl's reunified Germany, to convince her to abandon the German mark. The monetary union, which was born on the parameters of Maastricht Treaty of 1992, he took as a model the neo-liberal economic doctrine, whose fundamental postulates seemed tailored to the needs of German industrial and financial capitalism.
This has inevitably led to an increasingly hegemonic position of the German economy within the Eurozone and the wholeEuropean Union - in addition to a structurally surplus trade balance towards all partners - consequently also modifying the political power relations between the two axis countries. A new balance appeared very evident on the occasion of the appointment of the first governor of the ECB ten years later. Gaulist Chirac's France took a French appointment for granted, but Kohl's Germany claimed a Germanic appointment. The clash was fierce and with tones never seen between the two countries: Chirac claimed the agreements of 1992, when Mitterand granted the seat of the ECB to Germany in its financial capital, in exchange for the leadership of the institute; Kohl held firm and the Dutchman Duisenberg was elected at the end of the fight, although Chirac tore off an unusual relay race with Trichet for the governance mechanisms of a central bank. The power relations between the two countries had already changed a lot compared to ten years before, but the greater weight of Germany, to the detriment of France, would have been even more accentuated in the following eighteen years that separate us from current affairs.
And we come to the turning point of these days.
The powerful economic shock of the coronavirus it makes the structural opposition between Germanic and Mediterranean countries within the monetary union explode into a real battle. Mario Draghi, authoritative ex-governor of the ECB, enters the debate and from the pages of the Financial Times fires a "Keynesian torpedo" against the neo-liberal foundations of the "Germanized euro" (see Draghi and the American Bazooka to take back Europe).
That opens a new scenario for France's power policy in Europe and in the world, within which Macron moves towards a new strategic positioning. If the signs had already been seen in the speeches to the nation to face the health crisis, in the interview released, always at Financial Timeslast week, the choice of field is clear and definitive.
The French president, in perfect style Size, starts from afar, pointing to the world that the time has come to structurally change the capitalist economic model and the type of globalization it has generated. Increasingly aggressive and globalized terrorism, destruction of the environment and biodiversity increasingly violent and generalized with its heavy climate impacts, migration of peoples increasingly massive and uncontrollable, inequality in the most developed countries increasingly profound and dangerous for democracies, crises economic and health services that are increasingly frequent and devastating: they are all warning signs of evident unsustainability, which impose us a total change of course. We need to rethink a new model of sustainable economic development that puts man and his eco-system first. The serious health crisis has put the world at a crossroads: save lives or save the economy? The world has put man before the economy and from here we must start again.
From this fundamental point Macron directs the discourse on Europe, the central theme of his message.
All the extraordinary economic measures taken to face the health crisis are going against the treaties, against the foundations of the European construction, since they are all state aid to the private economy. Not only, the countries with the strongest economy and the most orderly accounts, can give greater guarantees to their companies and this generates a distortion of free competition. Two big problems that require us to abandon the old solutions and think about what was unthinkable until just six months ago (it's time to think the unthinkable): complete sharing of risks and costs among all member countries without taking into account the past and the "faults" of the past. If Europe is not just a market project, but above all a political project, it must put the human factor in front of everything and therefore must promote complete and total solidarity among all its peoples, leaving aside the calculations of mere economic convenience. . Otherwise the European project dies, there is no choice. It is the position of the southern countries, headed by Italy, seen as smoke in the eyes by the Germanic countries.
In the hard confrontation on the mutualisation of debt, emblematic of two opposing philosophies of thought, the results of which will therefore be crucial for the maintenance of the current European construction, France takes sides definitively. Against Germany.
Macron - who previously did not fail to declare a substantial identity of views with what Draghi exposed in the columns of the same newspaper - captures the health crisis and the Anglo-American position (see Draghi and the American Bazooka to take back Europe) the possibility of changing the power relations within the Paris-Berlin axis.
Leaving the Germanic block and going to the southern countries, given the weight of France, it moves the center of gravity towards the latter, which thus represent 60% of the Eurozone's GDP. Strengthened by this new majority position and aware of the fact that the renunciation of debt mutualisation may mean for them having to face a future "Greek" scenario, the southern countries seem to be holding on, at the cost of breaking the monetary union. Moreover, even the ECB, led by the French Lagarde, takes sides, openly pushing for the Coronabond.
France therefore puts Germany and its satellites at a crossroads: accept the mutualisation of debt and also take on the risks and costs of the southern countries or stay on their own positions with the real risk of implosion of the monetary union.
In the former, most likely, Germany would surrender the scepter of EU political leadership to France, which, as announced, would continue the political integration, which she has always pursued. The ambitious project of the United States of Europe at that point it would no longer be just an aspiration, but a concrete objective to be achieved, obviously with a French - political and military - leadership. On the other hand, it was Macron himself, in his "speech on nuclear defense and deterrence strategy" held at the Paris School of War last February, to put the Strike force - the continent's only nuclear weapon after the Brexit - available to the EU. It would be the end of neo-liberal austerity and the beginning of new European policies, not only monetary, but also and above all fiscal, of the Keynesian style, more in line with the needs of French capitalism and the Mediterranean countries. Last but not least, reconsolidation of Europe on the Anglo-American axis with consequent departure from China. It is no coincidence that Macron chose the FT to declare his choice of field and not surprisingly he also conceded in a passage: "There are clearly things that have happened in China that we do not know", prompting immediate reactions from Beijing.
In the second case, much less likely for many reasons, Germany with its satellites (Holland, Austria and Finland) would have no choice but to leave the single currency, giving rise to a re-edition of the German mark.. France would however emerge from it as the undisputed leading nation of a new Eurozone, with a monetary policy and a common fiscal address both decided almost exclusively in Paris.