Business File, September-October 2017, No. 112
In Athens, President Macron and PM Alexis Tsipras, both belonging to the young generation of European politicians, tried to clarify their common goals, keeping the distances when found.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has already heard the right words from French President Emmanuel Ma cron, even before his arrival in Athens in September 7, for a two-day visit. Mr Macron has always be a stable supporter of “a sustainable solution to the Greek economic problem.” As Economy Minister in the former President Holland government, he has shown several times his moral support to the early SYRIZA government during the troubled negotiations of 2015, even though he never got “the clearance” by President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel to contribute in real terms.
Em. Macron, president of France, has not changed his initial position for a “sustainable solution to the Greek problem,” but his ideas will have to wait till the end of the ongoing Greek programme, in August 2018, when –and if– the discussion on the debt relief will open in Eurogroup. That is certainly not enough for Athens. Former president Francois Hollande, during his official visit to Greece in October 2015, had reassured the SYRIZA government on the same crucial issue, but in the end of the day he had to obey the “German rule” and stepped back. Macron’s intentions will not be clarified until the formation of the new German government and the new franco-german “alliance” in the EU.
Meanwhile, Athens seems willing to support the new ideas and proposals Paris wants to promote in the EU, seeking the German ok. President Macron has unveiled his thoughts for the Eurozone, in an interview before coming to Greece, as well as in his Athens speeches, promising that his concrete proposals on issues referring to strengthening of the Eurozone, social policies, defense, migration, youth and culture will appear after the German elections in mid-September. President Macron insists that the Eurozone has to move forward for a sizeable budget, which should be worth “several points of the Eurozone GDP,” funded by the member states tax incomes. “The creation of such a budget would fi rst of all mean establishing a minimum level of solidarity to eventually be able to raise money in common, invest and absorb economic shocks that could hit Europe again.
This new approach of the Eurozone area has of course the full support of the Greek government, even though the details are not yet known. Athens gives also its full support on Macron’s ideas about the European fi scal policy: “Europe’s fi scal policy is too restrictive today compared to those of China, Russia or the United States, and our jobless are paying the price,” Macron has cited, with words jiggling in Greek ears, as well as the idea of an economy and finance minister.
Athens seems rather skeptical to the common intention of Macron, Merkel and the European Commiss Athens seems rather skeptical to the common intention of Macron, Merkel and the European Commission to strengthen the criteria and obligations for China’s “silk’s invation”
Nevertheless, it is too early for Athens to give full support to Macron’s idea of a multi-speed Europe, even though the debate is already launched a few months ago at the Rome Summit to celebrate the 60th anniversary of European Communities. Athens seems rather skeptical to the com-mon intention of Macron, Merkel and the European Commission to strengthen the criteria and obligations for China’s “silk invasion” in the fields of infrastructures, green energy and railways to Easter Europe and the Western Balkans (with Greece being one of the main gates). The Greek government is seeking to a fi nd the suitable balance between the necessary investments from European companies (French companies are of high priority) as well as Chinese ones in a non competive way.
The Age bond
Yet there is a natural bond between Emanuel Macron and Alexis Tsipras: their age. Macron, Tsipras, Charles Michel of Belgium and Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg are all under 45, forming the “Young Musketeers” of the Eurozone. Mr Macron has already met with the two French-speaking leaders, in Luxembourg, proposing the creation of “a coalition of the willing” in order to reform EU. “Our generation has a special responsibility to rebuilt Europe,” he said. Mr Tsipras is the only one that does not share the liberal views of the other three; that is why the Greek government is not particularly happy with the recent liberal reforms in the labour market in France. Reforms in the labour market and the public sector are the main issues for negotiations during the third Review of the Greek programme, which started early September. bf Macron Merkel: Big decisions after German elections “The numismatic history of Aegina” is the postgraduate thesis of Emmanuel Macron.
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