“I have always wanted Europe” — Alfred Grosser – European Union news, interview euronews.flv

“I have always wanted Europe” — Alfred Grosser – European Union   news, interview   euronews.flv


“I have always wanted Europe” says Alfred
Grosser, one of the great contributors to the Franco-German post war reconciliation
that has shaped modern Europe. A teacher in France since moving there from
Germany in the 1930s he has lectured at Stanford, Tokyo and Singapore, led France’s Political
Sciences Institute, and been honoured in both France and Germany for his work. He’s the
author of a number of books, notably of the Franco-German relationship. euronews asked
him what he thought about Europe’s current financial crisis. Rudolf Herbert, euronews: Europe looks like
it’s on its way under, and is sinking. Did you prepare your lifeboat? Alfred Grosser: I do not have a lifeboat,
but of course it is possible that there might be a catastrophe, that there might be consequences
which could spread out everywhere. The deficits in most of the countries are terrible. One
cannot fight against the deficits without slowing down the growth. And one needs the
growth to cut back the deficit. It’s a vicious circle. A positive outcome could be that Europeans
might find out that they cannot have a common currency without, at a minimum, a common authority
for budgets and taxes. euronews: According to analysts this is just
the beginning of the crisis. Are there political causes for the crisis? Alfred Grosser: First of all analysts constantly
have been wrong, maybe this time they are making a mistake again. Nobody predicted the
crisis in Greece for instance, nobody said that it would be so bad. So analysts have
been at fault in this sense, maybe they will be at fault in another way. Experts are people
who pretend to have a science but they don’t. It’s like this. But I think one of the political
reasons for the crisis is that a coordinated Europe doesn’t exist. There is no Europe
with a central authority for economy and budget affairs. In 1954 I was against the European
Defence Community. One of my reasons was: Where is the sense of a common army if there
is no political authority in command of this army? When the Euro was created I wrote –
I am able to prove it because I wrote it – that I agreed and that I was for the
Euro! But I also asked what could a common currency be without a central authority? Because
this authority should control currency when making budget policy, should have a common
tax policy. euronews: Is Europe as a political project
going into the dark? Will a politically powerful united Europe remain a utopia, a dream? Alfred Grosser: It’s not a Utopia, it’s
a necessity! Nobody seems to admit this necessity, that’s bad enough. It started with France
saying No in 1953 to a political organized Europe. This is the reason why later on the
Defence community failed. And there is still a negative attitude in France forged in words
uttered by the former prime minister Georges Pompidou in 1964. He said: ‘France should
play the role of Europe’. He didn’t say ‘France should play a role IN Europe’.
He said Europe’s role should be played by France. This French arrogance is one of the
causes of the crisis. euronews: What are the threats for a political
Europe? Alfred Grosser: I do not see any threats apart
from national vanities which should be overridden. euronews: Is policy on Europe made in Brussels
or in Paris and Berlin? Alfred Grosser: Neither. Paris and Berlin
are trying to speak with one voice to make pressure on Europe. After the Lisbon treaty
it’s even more difficult to locate the power in Europe because for instance nobody knows
who should make european foreign policy, or where: Should it be made by the president
of the European Commission? By the new minister, Catherine Ashton who is also vice-president
of the Commission? By the President of the Council? They are bothering each other a lot.
Last but not least one doesn’t know what and how a commmon european policy should be! euronews: Is the Lisbon treaty an adequate
guide for Europe’s future? Alfred Grosser: I would say it’s a good
step. Maybe that events, the crisis will force the governments, maybe even the French and
the Germans to say to themselves: We do need a more integrated Europe with more central
power. euronews: What do you think about the European
institutions? Alfred Grosser: The Parliament is working
well, it has done a lot of useful things and has gained more and more responsibilities.
It’s a pity that people don’t know – in Germany it’s better known than in France
– that this Parliament is an institution which has been chosen in a democratic way.
The Commission is working better than one expected with all the new member states. Unfortunately
the old system still exists: Every government nominates a commissioner. The President of
the commission should be able to chose the commissioners for their skills and not for
their nationality. euronews: What is your opinion about the first
permanent president of Europe? Does he have enough power? Alfred Grosser: No, he doesn’t enough. But
he is doing his job well. It’s much more difficult for the EU foreign affairs chief
because she has to familiarize herself with her job, she needs to know more about things
she is supposed to decide. And her administration has got far too big with missions everywhere.
There is a dispute between the president of the European Commission, the president of
the Council and the foreign affairs chief about who is going to represent Europe in
foreign countries, about who is going to be Europe’s ambassador. There is a certain
disorder in this field. But I think the president of Europe is happy about not being prime minister
of Belgium any more because this job is more difficult than getting something for Europe.
He is doing his job down-to-earth, sedately and well. euronews: Should Europe become bigger or rather
smaller? Alfred Grosser: In no case smaller! And nobody
wants to quit it! But it has been like this from the very beginning: One rails against
Europe but everybody wants to join Europe. There are a lot of difficult questions but
Turkey is not a difficult question for me. One should ask Turkey: ‘Do it like Switzerland
– take all the benefits but don’t be a member. Take all the economic benefits,
but you won’t get political responsibility because otherwise we would always be threatened
by a war, with Iraq, Iran and so on.’ There are for instance Turkish military interventions
in Kurdistan, in Iraqi Kurdistan. One doesn’t want Kurds to become independent because one
is afraid about what Turkish Kurds would do. euronews: You have always defended Europe.
What is your message for young people? Alfred Grosser: First of all I’ve never
defended Europe, I wanted Europe! I did all I could for more Europe. We should show to
the young the things we already have. If we had told Robert Schuman in 1950 what we have
already today, he would have been very pleased. It’s less than we could have hoped but it’s
more than we could expect.

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