The Path to the Post-Crisis Europe
theme: Can the G20 prevent the tragic scenario?
The Path to the Post-Crisis Europe

Anticipations about the evolution of Europe and Euroland in the period 2012-2015

The current crisis the European construction is going through is one of the facets of the global systemic crisis, which is just redrawing the whole geopolitical, economic and financial planetary map. 2011/2012 we entered into the last stage of “dislocation” of the pre-crisis world. This stage is characterized by the “reshaping” of the leading powers in order to make them compatible with the emerging world, with the post-crisis world.

Definitely, the hypertrophic EU, which has developed since the nineties through fast successive enlargements without deep integration (except the Euro), is one of the powers, which is being “trimmed” by history. In a crisis of historic proportions, nobody’s fantasies can survive very long, because they have to confront reality. And this reality, reasserted since the nineties, is that without deep integration, coupled with a serious democratization, the European project lacks an anchor sufficient to withstand the storms of history. The current crisis has finally placed the historic core of European integration in front of its responsibilities ... and as history is not ungrateful, it has also given the opportunity to meet them.

It is this process that we see unfolding before our eyes and which non-European observers are struggling to decipher. This is not surprising since even in the EU only a few people are aware of the current evolution. And I do not even mention the eurosceptic discourses of the extreme right or left who expect (as always) that history will serve them their fantasies on a plate: but history, comrade, is built ... you don’t wait for it in a salon in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam or elsewhere.

This process, which reflects my anticipations presented in my book, develops in two partly overlapping stages:

1. On one side, there is the rapid deconstruction (2009-2010) of the EU of the nineties, which is characterized by a undivided domination of the British/US vision of Europe ... i.e. a geo-strategic annex of Washington aiming at extending the “Pax Wall Street” from the Atlantic to Central Asia. The main goal assigned to the EU is to perpetually enlarge in order to create a huge market. This view is now becoming obsolete and its promoters are in full disintegration. The UK is totally marginalized in the European project. It is just a critical spectator and now unable to prevent the acceleration of political integration. We have noticed that through the huge leaps done by Euroland since May 2010. And we will soon see the same with the initiation of a new treaty for Euroland coupled with increasing economic and fiscal integration.

2. On the other side, we see the end of a generation of politicians elected at the head of the Euroland states before the beginning of the crisis, many of whom were elected because of their adherence to the WallStreet- (or City of London-) view of the world and Europe in particular. From 2012 on, these leaders will be gone (even Denmark not belonging to Euroland just "liquidated" its extreme-right pro-Atlantic-right majority, which ran this country for over a decade). At the same time we see how the opposition parties being free of the responsibilities of power could recognize the radical nature of the current crisis (both global and concerning European integration). Now they are already preparing to bring a new European vision of solutions (as we can see, for instance, with the common Franco-German initiative about Euroland governance launched by Martine Aubry and Sigmar Gabriel). We will definitely have to wait until the second half of 2012 for this process to be initiated, but it is already in advanced gestation in many circles of power within Euroland, including in the surroundings of the current leaders (even if they are too "grilled" now to initiate anything essential).

This integration of Euroland will take the following forms between 2013 and 2015:

the establishment of “light” institutions (totally different from the EU's institutional machinery) based on the coordinated use of networks of national operators in terms of foreign affairs, economic policies, set-up of an EU public service, etc ...
the geographic distribution of these micro-institutions in places outside the triangle Brussels-Luxembourg-Strasbourg (see the chapter on polycentric institutions in my book)
the launch of massive public loans to regain control of public debt of Euroland, which are now in the hands of the international markets
the establishment of an inner-European tax on financial transactions, which will spread quickly to other continents via the support of the BRICS
a European "mutiny" within the NATO for the creation of an independent European defense, committed in a Euro-US partnership
a Euro- BRICS summit to prepare the future agendas of the G20, including the launch of a new global currency
the creation of a subset "Euroland Parliament" within the European Parliament
a trans-Euroland referendum on the project of an Euroland integration treaty, marking the beginning of a real democratization of Euroland.
Reading these lines, some will say that I take my desires for reality. Yet these are the results of objective analysis that simply assess trends already underway. How many people would have imagined in 2009 that the EU adopts a financial guarantee fund of 700 billion € in just one weekend? We are and we will be in the next few years at the heart of this process of crisis during which "normal" years are concentrated into a few weeks. Now indeed everyone recognizes, that Europe (and Euroland in particular) is at the heart of this phase of the crisis. But where most observers are deceived (or try to deceive us) is that she is not at the heart of this phase of the crisis because she is the "weak link" of the world in transition but because she is the matrix of the post-crisis world. It is the current exit of Euroland from the Anglo-Saxon orbit (and its refusal to implement the prescriptions recommended by Wall Street, the City and the IMF), which is shaping the world of tomorrow. If viewed from Washington or London, this is weakness, then in the sense that Europeans no longer obey as in the past. But it is a sign of the rapid collapse of the US-UK model, not of the Euroland model: on the contrary, because the latter is built before our eyes, while the former is crumbling day by day. And the BRICS and have understood that very well and build their future on Europe, despite the global media hype that tries to dissuade them: for them it’s enough to look at the key variables to understand with whom they can invent the global future: saving rates, household wealth, quality of education, quality of production, quality of environment, quality of the health and social systems, ability to communicate / interact with different parts of the world, mastering of multilateral processes, .... In all these areas, Europe is by far the No. 1. For the rest, the history of the USSR has shown the long-term usefulness of an oversized military arsenal: it is not zero ... it is very negative! But Washington, wrongly, is not interested in history.

It is actually possible to avoid the tragic scenario developed in my book. I remind you, that my anticipation includes the fact that between 2012 and 1016 there exists an historic window of opportunity to set the course for Europe and the world either for the road to tragedy, or for the road to renewal. If we miss this opportunity, then we will be blocked for at least a decade in the worst global scenario possible.

And the future of Europe, as often in the history of the last centuries, is key to this global scenario. We, Europeans, are the factor that can tip the switch. For worse or for better. Especially if we manage to make up the two lost decades in terms of political integration and if in parallel we talk to the emerging powers, instead of just being a prisoner of a growing conflict of interest between the U.S. and Euroland.

To conclude this future perspective, I would like to share with you some lessons of a European political past that I have known and in which I was a modest little actor[1]: the rebirth of the European project in the mid-eighties. In fact I see many similarities between the historical nature of the challenges Europe has to face in the early eighties and the ones it is facing today, although from their appearance they look very different. Always be careful of appearances, especially in history. This is the European crisis that was caused by the NATO Double-track decision (crise des Euromissiles). (Translator’s note: in English there is no equivalent for “crise des Euromissiles”)

In the late 1970s, the USSR, supposedly at the height of its power, launches a huge operation "Finlandization"[2] of Western Europe, designed to "decouple" the defense of Western Europe from the United States. Parallel with the deployment in 1977 of nuclear SS20 short-range missiles on the western borders of the Warsaw Pact, the USSR begins to reactivate its massive support for the European peace movements. And in the years 1980-1982, the operation seems to work beautifully as the attempt of NATO to counter the deployment of SS20 with their equivalents, the Pershing missiles, is facing a very large popular reaction in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Italy, in the UK .... Persuaded, that it is NATO which starts an offensive strategy, which could therefore lead to nuclear war, millions of people demonstrate against the NATO project[3], repeating everywhere the slogan "Better red than dead". The European leaders of that time like Valery Giscard d'Estaing in France and Helmut Schmidt in Germany are at a loss and have neither the credibility nor the political ability to successfully counter this unexpected challenge. So for nearly three years, it really seemed that Western Europe would be finlandised, (and thus removed from history). History books call this "la crise des Euromissiles" ... and already we had the words "Euro" and "crisis" together! (Translator’s note: the assessment is obviously different). France was not affected by the deployment of Pershing missiles, since it was not in the integrated military structure of NATO and had its own nuclear deterrent. At the turn of the years 1981/1982, new leaders are elected in Western Europe. And most understand the importance of the deployment of Pershing missiles to prevent a Soviet diplomatic stranglehold on the whole of Europe, but popular opposition is huge. Yet it is their determination, aided by a masterly political coup of the French President François Mitterrand, newly elected... and socialist, that changes history against all odds. In January 1983 he holds in the Bundestag a strong plea for the deployment of Pershing missiles. The impact of this speech is very strong because it comes from a French President (and thus hardly suspect of pro-Americanism[4]), who even is socialist! It marks a turning point in the crisis because Helmut Kohl, who was elected two months later as new Federal Chancellor, seizes the ball and decides the deployment of US missiles on German territory. Margaret Thatcher who had come to power three years before strongly supports this decision. Ruud Lubbers who took over the Netherlands in 1982 engages in the same direction. This is the beginning of the rapid decline throughout Western Europe of the peace movement opposed to this policy, and above all is the failure of what we recognize only six years later as the last attempt of a moribund USSR (but believed invincible by the West) to win the chess game between East and West which had lasted since 1949. The arrival of new leaders in Western Europe, around the nucleus Mitterrand-Kohl, dynamised by the resolution of this crisis, thus transforms a possible terrible European defeat into what might be called the "first renaissance of the European project”. Because in 1984 and 1985 with the Single European Act (SEA)[5] and the appointment of Jacques Delors as President of the Commission begins the period that sees the implementation of the foundations of the current Europe (single market, Erasmus, single currency, ...) and which prepare the conditions for the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989[6].

And if today I call this "the first European renaissance" it is because I anticipate a "second European renaissance" around Euroland in the second half of 2012. The same socio-political configuration is at work:

a major crisis which is jeopardizing even the future of the European project
a coming renewal of the leaders of major countries
a worried and manipulated public opinion[7]
a super-power outside Europe, originated after 1945, the United States, playing its last card
the arrival of forces generated in the last twenty years (namely the Erasmus generations) for whom Europe is a natural environment, like water to a fish[8].
This is neither "whisfull thinking" nor absolute certainty about the details/terms. But concerning the general trend, I am as sure about this anticipation, as by the way the entire team of LEAP/E2020, as we were in February 2006, when we announced the imminence of the global systemic crisis, in February 2008, when we announced a major US crisis in September 2008, in May 2010, when we stated, that Euroland had to take control of the European project and that the crisis of the euro would boost the European project, and in November 2010, when we wrote, that the second half of 2011 would see the great return of the crisis.

[1] I have decided to put the book, that I wrote in 1995 entitled " L'émergence des Eurocitoyens " with free access online. Since then, it circulates in paper form or poorly scanned among European students. It was rescanned in PDF format of better quality and is now available. It describes, through the adventure of the creation and the early years of development of the first major European student network AEGEE-EUROPE, the European context around the period 1984-1988. First revival of the European project, the conditions of the adoption of Erasmus, tips and examples to build and manage large networks and European student projects ... its content tells the story of the pioneers of the 2 million representatives of the "Erasmus generations". At a time when the youth of the continent seems to want to be heard politically, it may still be useful. And it's a necessary reminder to me that when young people no longer recognize themselves in the present or in the future that previous generations are offering to them, then, rather than indignation, they should raise their sleeves and start to open the road to that future which they aspires. If this little book has a value of testimony, then this: a handful of young determined men 25 years old can help guide the story of a continent and the future of millions of young people after them! That was true yesterday. This is still true today! To download the book, click here.

[2] Finlandization described at the time a country that is geopolitically totally neutralized like the Finland of 1945. No doubt the 'True Finns' must regret this time when their country could not lift a finger without the agreement of the Soviet Union ... because this was the reality of Finland before its entry into the EU after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

[3] The highlight was a human chain across Germany from north to south.

[4] A tradition betrayed without democratic mandate or announcement prior to his election by the current French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

[5] New EU treaty:

[6] I stress this point because I always felt that there were three basic reasons of equal importance for the collapse of the Soviet empire: 1. the structural inefficiency of the Soviet Union and its socio-economic-political model, 2. the arms race with the United States that drained its economy which was already in bad shape 3. the revival of the European project in the mid-eighties that created an irresistible attractor for the whole Central and Eastern Europe and ended hopes of a "neutralization" of the western continent. This last point has played the essential role in the political dynamics of Eastern Europe, which lead to popular rejections of communist regimes during 1989. The dominant interpretation of the end of the Soviet empire caused only through the Reagan policy is a solely US-centered vision of this period of European history.

[7] The current nationalist movements, assisted by the tremendous British/US media manipulation about the Greek crisis and the Euro are the "little brothers" of the peace movements, relayed by the pro-USSR press of that time.

[8] A fish never asks if he loves the water or not. This is what the eurosceptic baby boomers cannot understand.