Interview in La RAZÓN – Una gran ocasión para reformar Francia

I was asked the following questions recently by the Spanish national newspaper LA RAZÓN. See my responses below.

1. Could Macron´s labour reform be the reason for the failure of his legislation?

It could be.  But if he does not do it, he will fail in his ambitions to 
make French grow again economically.  And if he fails to bring about successful reform, he also loses out in his attempt to appear more ‘credible’ to Germany, so as to be able to get reforms of Eurozone governance and policy that will help all Eurozone members to do better.

2. Macron promised to renew French politics, would you say he is on the 
right path to it?

Macron has the best chance to renew French politics.  Mixing policies deemed on the ‘right’ because they liberalize labor markets, increasing flexibility in hiring and firing, and on the ‘left’ because they provide new security for individual workers through unemployment insurance and retraining programs is an appropriate mix.  It is key to get both sets of policies through, also in the interests of ‘social justice’, given the dualization of the French work-force that has ensured continuing high levels of unemployment (altho nowhere near the Spanish level) and youth who find themselves unemployed or in part=time or temporary work for much too long.  The reality is that these reforms won’t do much in the short-term although they are likely to in the medium-term.  But they are certain to raise business confidence immediately, which will get the economy going through more hiring and investment, help reduce unemployment, and make France again able to help lead in Europe.

3. Considering his majority in the government, will the opposition to Macron be on the streets?

Yes, the opposition will be on the streets.  Here, the big question will be whether citizens support Macron or the protests.  My guess is that they will support Macron, who has the legitimacy based on his clear statement that he would engage in these kinds of reforms, and his massive win in the Presidential elections and majority in the legislatives.

4. His predecessor, François Hollande, wanted to change European politics, will Macron be more successful?

Yes!!!!!  There are big differences between Macron and Hollande, the ‘normal’ president who reversed his electoral promises almost immediately, who did little to challenge rules that didn’t work for France, other than to promote a discourse of ‘growth,’ and did very little to push for greater EU solidarity.  Hollande had little credibility on the European stage, Macron already has a great deal, as a new phenomenon, having won election with an entirely new party, pledging to renew French and European politics.

Here is the link to the Spanish article, which was published yesterday.

The Way Forward for Europe

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation asked a number of academics and politicians how to keep the EU together. Is it time for more or less EU integration? What does the EU look like in 60 years? The answers recall the peace project Europe or advocate an EU integration of different speeds - see my contribution below!

Other comments can be found here.

Vivien Schmidt in Hungarian Press

Vivien Schmidt was interviewed recently by Hungarian news outlet HVG (World Economy Weekly) on Europe's refugee fears and populist responses to threat of terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic. The interview was published in two parts on January 4 and on January 6.

The interview appears to have been widely read in Hungary, as the number of comments on both publications suggest. Zsolt Bayer, a co-founder of Fidesz and a friend of Viktor Orbán referenced the interview in one of his recent pieces arguing that it is an emblematic example of a conspiracy between the so called Western professors and the so called journalists which exemplifies the European left's flawed way of thinking and the international leftist propaganda that tries to convince people that multiculturalism is something good.

Refugees on the Austrian- Slovenian border on November 1. Fotó: Túry Gergely
Refugees on the Austrian- Slovenian border on November 1. Fotó: Túry Gergely

Greece’s Misery: “A Fraternity in Which Everyone Gets Hazed”

Police guard a Greek bank earlier this year during protests by striking Greek workers against continued government austerity. Photo by Flickr contributor Underclass Rising

This week’s deal extending a third bailout to debt-racked Greece in exchange for further austerity measures averted the country’s having to abandon the euro, and the possibly devastating consequences that would have brought. But Vivien Schmidt says it’s a Pyrrhic victory.

Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and a professor at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, agrees with critics who say that far from solving the debt crisis, more austerity will merely prolong Greece’s 1930s-type depression. That depression prevents economic growth and the resources it would bring to pay debts, she says—a problem evident on her last visit two years ago, when “you could see lots of stores closed in Athens.”

Yet several members of the 19-nation Eurozone, having undergone austerity themselves in the past in exchange for help, are loath to spare the Greeks what they had to endure, Schmidt says. “It’s like belonging to a fraternity in which everyone gets hazed. You’re not going to let one young freshman who says I’m going to die…get out of being hazed.”

She also agrees with opponents who say the bargain infringes on Greek sovereignty, stripping the country’s ruling party, the leftist Syriza party, of control over the nation’s economic destiny. The quandary for Greece, she says, is that “if it stays in the Eurozone, it’s subject to a massive loss of sovereignty.…If it doesn’t accept this, it’s in much worse shape if it leaves.”

Schmidt, also a Pardee School professor of international relations and of political science, directs the Center for the Study of Europe. BU Today asked her to weigh in on the Greek debt crisis and whether a third bailout would help.

Continue reading on BU Today>>

ELIAMEP Crisis Observatory Interview

During a European Seminar entitled "Europe in Crisis, Citizens in Protest" (4-7 July, 2013, Nafplion, Greece), I gave a video recorded interview for the Crisis Observatory/ELIAMEP.

In it, I discuss why the Eurozone has not been able to exit the crisis and problems with current approaches to the crisis among other things. The interview was transcribed and can be read on line in English here.

Exploring the Eurozone Crisis

In this three-part series of interviews, Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for the Study of Europe, discusses the ongoing Eurozone Crisis, problems of leadership and democracy in the EU, and the effect and applications her research is finding overseas.

The Eurozone Crisis, Part 1: Origins and Effects of the Eurozone Crisis

The Eurozone Crisis, Part 2: How Ideas and Discourse Shape History

The Eurozone Crisis, Part 3: Pushing the Dialogue Forward