French Comeback Exposes Rift in Eurozone Core
Paris made a surprise comeback on the European stage this week. As the crisis over Greece approaches a decisive moment, President François Hollande has presented himself as a potential bridge builder between Athens and its creditors. His officials also reportedly helped draft the reform proposal that Alexis Tsipras, Greek prime minister, sent to the lenders late on Thursday night.
Such moves were eye-catching. Until now Paris has largely, if reluctantly, quietly followed Berlin’s eurozone policy of providing aid but at the same time pushing hard for reforms to the governance of the euro area that follow German economic thinking. Now, by opposing Berlin’s position on how to deal with Greece, Paris has exposed a deep rift in the euro area about the very nature of monetary union itself.
Disagreement between the two main continental European powers — the fabled Franco-German motor — is nothing new. Over the past six decades, European integration has frequently been achieved through a process in which profound differences between France and Germany were resolved in hard-fought compromises that mostly worked because they were seen as a fair deal and accepted by other EU member states.
Image Credit: Flickr-European Council