There is a pretty Eastern proverb which runs: “Follow the liar to the gate of his house.” This sensible recommendation is very useful both in private life and in public life.
For instance, proposals from France’s far-right National Front (FN), and its recent claim to be from now on a sensible and reasonable party, with an applicable program, useful to those most in need, inconvenient to the strong, and capable of protecting France from the ills of the world; and particularly the waves of migrants who are supposed to come to destroy our way of life.
In reality, all of this is illusion; this closing strategy is highly inefficient. Let’s take a single example, which can then be repeated ad infinitum.
For a long time, the National Front was opposed to the abandonment of the national currency and called for the franc to be maintained. A position perfectly consistent with its isolationism: Failing to set up the single currency would have soon led member countries of the “Single” Market to find out that it was not the case for this market, since they could compete with each other by devaluation. And, from undoing to abandonment, the whole European construction would be undone, to the delight of the nationalists. Costing France the largest market worldwide.
Then the National Front included in its program the abandonment of the euro and the return to the national currency. Finally, faced with a ‘leap in the unknown’ that such a choice would imply, Marine Le Pen now says that the euro will remain the “common currency” and that the old French franc will be readopted as the “national currency.” And as further reassurance, she explains that there is no reason to be worried: “one franc will still be equivalent to one euro.”
It is hard to understand then, what is the point of this new currency: If the Euro/French franc parity is inextricably equal, the franc would only be another name for the euro. What would it change? Absolutely nothing!
Driven into a corner, Marine Le Pen now explains that the euro is overvalued and that products priced in francs, of lower value, would be able to find customers more easily. Moreover, having our own currency, we would have moved on to getting rid of the dictates of the European Commission which would claim to limit our deficits.
This absurd reasoning is flawed on two counts. On the one hand, it has been a long time since anyone has respected the so-called diktats of Brussels. On the other hand, the franc would necessarily and immediately be devalued in relation to the euro. In practical terms, this would mean that the bank accounts of the French people would automatically be denominated in a devalued currency. The savings of the French people will immediately lose a large portion of their value. In order to avoid this, it will be necessary to open a euro account in a foreign bank, which will not be available to all the French people. In other words, calling into question the euro will only benefit the very affluent.
To that, one must add the public debt: The proportion of this debt denominated in euros will become more expensive and the interest rates will increase. In order to pay for it, it will be necessary to make savings infinitely more severe than those not required by Brussels today.
All in all, consumers, savers and employees have nothing to gain from euro exit. European integration is synonymous with progress. It is something to be proud of and to promote for future generations.
Of course, it would be wrong to be content with the current situation. In particular, Germany must be asked to reduce its surpluses in order to move towards a more balanced Europe. We have good reasons to ask for it. And that should be what we really should be talking about.