Only hours after Emmanuel Macron’s election victory, and with his inauguration still a week away, the new resident of the Elysee palace was already receiving early advice from his partners on the other side of the Rhine: No communitization of debt, no politics on credit, no special treatment for France. Such was the advice that German Union party (CDU/CSU) and liberal FDP (Free Democratic Party) politicians immediately offered their French neighbor, Macron.
Hello – is everything okay, or have you lost your minds? The relief that many felt about the 39-year-old founder of “En Marche!” having defeated Marine Le Pen – and thus hindering the likely destruction of the EU – with a uniquely pro-European campaign, had barely sunken in before the niggling began. Politicians began raising yellow cards and drawing red lines immediately. Yet now is the time when Germany, above all, should be focused on developing new EU reforms together with France. Rather than wagging fingers and issuing warnings, it would seem that now would be the time to listen to what Macron actually intends to do: Reason and respect, I would argue, dictate as much.
Enough pressure from the left and the right at home
My fellow compatriots: Give him the customary 100 days generally afforded those who are new to their post. Or do we really want to see Macron crash and burn, right from the beginning? He is under enough pressure from right-wing populists like Marine Le Pen and left-wing populists like Jean-Luc Melenchon. No, that cannot be in the best interest of the European Union, nor of Germany.
Right now, responsible parties in Berlin and Brussels should be positive, or at least open, about Macron’s reform ideas. And the rule should also be that Paris is dealt with as an equal. Angela Merkel, it must be said, has announced that she will work with France to develop new investment initiatives and strengthen the euro zone.
Emmanuel Macron has presented proposals for a more democratic, sustainable and cooperative EU, as well as outlining what future-oriented paths out of the euro crisis might look like. Many in Germany want an improved and more cohesive EU, too. These are good conditions for a revitalization of Franco-German relations.
Euro rescue mechanisms were created outside of existing European treaties, and thus lack democratic legitimacy and effective parliamentary control. So let us forge a new alliance of national parliaments! The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) must ultimately be reconstructed as a European monetary fund that exists under the democratic control of the European Parliament. That would also send a clear signal to all those who are not yet members of the currency union: The strengthening of the euro zone is not directed against you!
Yes to a common euro zone budget
Macron supports the idea of a joint euro zone budget. That is a sensible proposal! Such a budget would make investment in shared innovation possible, and furthermore, it would help member countries in times of national emergency.
The momentum is there! Brexit has shocked many Europeans into action. In Austria, pro-European candidate Alexander Van der Bellen won the presidency; in the Netherlands, the Greens party won a record number of parliamentary seats by campaigning on pro-EU policies. Every week thousands of EU citizens are taking to the streets to show just how strongly the “Pulse of Europe” is beating.
As Europeans, we can only move forward if we are united. One-sided action will lead us off course. We must decisively combat inflammatory nationalism. We should get moving with our French partners: Toward a Europe that can withstand international challenges.
Franziska Brantner has been a member of German Federal Parliament for the Greens since 2013. She was previously a member of the European Parliament for four years.
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