The pressure is on for Emmanuel Macron. France has given his political movement, La République En Marche!, a clear mandate in the National Assembly. Now it’s his turn to deliver economic reforms and jobs, bringing down the country’s eyewateringly-high unemployment rate. He will also need to start delivering on his ambitious promises when it comes to Europe.
During the election campaign, Macron pledged to champion deeper eurozone integration as a way to kickstart Europe’s economy. He has called for a common eurozone budget to promote growth through investment, supervised by a eurozone finance minister. Political oversight would be provided by a new eurozone parliament made up of existing MEPs from euro countries. Macron believes that if these reforms are not undertaken then the single currency will collapse within a decade.
The fine details of the Macron plan have yet to be unveiled. However, there are encouraging noises coming from Berlin, where senior figures within the government have been declaring themselves open to the idea of comprehensive eurozone reforms (providing, of course, that France can overhaul its own economy first). Still, the idea of turning the eurozone into a “transfer union”, where rich countries routinely and automatically send money to poorer countries, is unlikely to go down well with the German voting public. One solution being mooted is to install a German as head of the European Central Bank, but it’s not clear how that would play in those European countries (particularly in the South) already uncomfortable with the amount of economic and political clought wielded by Germany.
Then, of course, there are the non-eurozone countries to worry about. The traditionally eurosceptic Brits are currently on their way out the Brexit door, so are unlikely to block deeper integration. Yet by focusing his reforms exclusively on the eurozone, Mssr. Macron’s plans look suspiciously like a “two-speed europe” model, with non-eurozone countries stuck on the outside looking in. Will they, like the Germans, also want reassurances?
Could Emmanuel Macron’s eurozone reforms save the EU? Does the eurozone need its own treasury and finance minister? Would a eurozone parliament help provide political control? And if major reforms aren’t carried out, will the euro collapse within a decade? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!