What France and Germany hope for from Biden

WA few days after his inauguration, the new American President Joe Biden received initial telephone calls with European partners, expressing his willingness to engage in new foreign policy cooperation. While Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) briefly let it be known after their conversation that she had shown “Germany’s willingness” to “take responsibility for dealing with international tasks together with European and transatlantic partners”, is in Paris after the French President’s conversation with Biden the “comprehensive agreement” on foreign policy issues was proudly highlighted.

Michaela Wiegel

In the Elysée Palace, people not only breathed a sigh of relief because there will be no American punitive tariffs on French wine and cheese with President Biden. The restart of transatlantic relations got off to a promising start from a French point of view with a 45-minute phone call between the two presidents on Sunday evening.

“First-rate European ally”

In Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic advisory staff, the “comprehensive agreement” is applied to many foreign policy dossiers. It applies, for example, to the relationship with Russia. Washington’s offer to extend the New Start Agreement by five years is met with support in Paris. Macron was alarmed about the expiry of the nuclear disarmament treaties and, to the annoyance of Eastern European NATO allies, had expressed willingness to talk to Moscow.

In Paris, there is now overwhelming hope that the United States will become more involved in negotiating a successor to the expired INF treaty to renounce land-based medium-range nuclear weapons-capable systems. Overall, the nuclear power France promises to regain its role as a “first-rate European ally”, it was said in the Elysée Palace.

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Diplomatic advisers highlight Joseph “Robinette” Biden’s close personal ties to France. The Elysée emphasized that he took his oath of office on a Bible from Douai. Macron’s staff attach great importance to France’s role as America’s “oldest ally”. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken spent his youth in Paris and attended an international school there. Through his stepfather Samuel Pisar, who has since passed away, he made many contacts with the political elite in Paris. In France, people are delighted that Blinken and John Kerry, two perfectly French-speaking politicians, occupy influential positions.

Fears of an American withdrawal from the Sahel region were allayed during the phone call. France wants to shut down its military operations, but is still dependent on American support. Great hopes are being placed in Paris on the increased willingness in Washington to strengthen the French negotiating initiative in Lebanon. Blinken had “confirmed” Macron’s priorities in the Senate. The situation in the crisis-ridden country is closely linked to the Iran negotiations.

In Paris, the American return to a negotiation approach is welcomed. However, it is agreed that the balance of power has shifted in favor of Iran over the past four years. The starting position is completely different. The idea of ​​extended negotiations, as presented by Macron during his state visit to Washington in 2018, is topical again. There is also consensus on the China strategy. Unlike under President Trump, it is not about an “anti-Chinese campaign”, but about a demanding approach to a “systemic rival”.

What about china?

In Berlin, a similarly natural foreign policy partnership is still a long way off. There, on Tuesday, the ruling faction of the Union parties in particular explained how Germany’s future foreign policy role in the transatlantic relationship should be outlined and the Chancellor’s offer to Biden to “take responsibility”. In a position resolution of the group it says: “We want to develop the transatlantic partnership into a comprehensive and global security partnership.” Europe and Germany should “act even more strongly as independent and capable security actors”. This corresponds “also to our own interests”.

To this end, the German side would have to further increase the commitment and resources “in defense, diplomacy and development cooperation” in order to be “more operationally capable”. The CDU paper defines the future locations for the stronger commitment: “We want Germany and Europe to contribute even more to the stabilization of Eastern Europe, Africa, the Near and Middle East and the Balkans.”

The deputy leader of the Union parliamentary group, Johann Wadephul, immediately made it clear that the “global security partnership” between Europe and America must apply not only to Russia (dialogue and credible deterrence), but above all to China. If the West sees itself challenged in a systemic competition with China in the same way, then it must also find an answer in the same direction. In the CDU paper it is said that, in principle, “the respective China policy and the choice of its means must not have negative or burdensome effects on the partners”. A “strategically oriented transatlantic China policy” must be developed.

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Europe now needs to be reformed from the ground up

Europe is at a crossroads. The political implosion of America’s once most important partner, the unresolved relationship with Russia and China, the economic upheaval as a result of Corona and the uncoordinated handling of this pandemic have led the European Union into a deep crisis.

As in other political and economic, social or ideological structures, the pandemic acts like a fire accelerator in the ailing building of the European Union. Weaknesses and omissions are revealed, old certainties dissolve, ignorance and repression no longer work.

The world we live in has little in common with that of the Cold War, which sank 30 years ago. The forces that determine our present can no longer be tamed by the means and methods of that past. If we want to control them, we have to ask the right questions, even if the answers are inconvenient. With this relentless diagnosis, a first step on the way out of the crisis has also been taken.

It is no coincidence that Europe does not have a common crisis management system in times of a pandemic. Because the health systems were never coordinated, so they are organized nationally to this day. States like Germany benefit from this because they rely on a consistent regulatory policy and therefore do not reject government guidelines from the outset.

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The billion-dollar reserves of the Federal Employment Agency and the statutory health insurances helped with the organization and financing of the first sweeping measures. So Germany went on its way in this serious crisis. The others went theirs. The paths were similar in some respects, but were not coordinated even under the impact of the pandemic.

The same applies to most areas of political and economic life. It can’t stay that way. If Europe wants to have a future, it has to be more than a well-established internal market, largely freed from stationary border controls, with a partially applicable common currency and a properly functioning crisis mechanism. For a “survival of the European project”, which French President Emmanuel Macron urged at the end of March 2020, this is by no means sufficient.

Founding spirit is necessary

What is required is that revolutionary verve, without which the founders 70 years ago would never have put what was then modern Europe on its feet. It certainly makes a difference whether six or 27 or – in the case of the euro zone – 19 partners are to be brought on board. But if you wait until everyone is on board, you postpone the revolution; if Germany does not come on board, it will not take place.

The mountains of credit and debt show that repair work within the existing system is no longer enough. Without a communitisation of debts, which can only be envisaged by reformulating the entire European treaty, this permanent problem cannot be solved. Of course, the further development of a currency union into a fiscal union is not without risk. But if you shy away from that, you shouldn’t even start building Europe.

The conditions under which the Eurogroup promised some of its particularly troubled members the urgently needed support after the severe financial crisis of 2008/9 urge caution today. The drastic budget cuts that they and other institutions demanded from the particularly affected countries in return for lending were ultimately at the expense of the health care system. To let these states fall into such traps again with ever new loans and austerity would be short-sighted.

We Germans in particular should recognize that the southern European countries are more than popular holiday destinations. They are guarantors of the economic stability of Europe. After Great Britain left, almost 53 percent of German exports of goods still go to the countries of the European Union. Countries like Greece, Italy, Spain or France guarantee our jobs and our prosperity. That they hold us jointly responsible for their stability and survival in times of existential crises is understandable.

Reconstruction aid was a first step

Therefore, the decision of the European heads of state and government in July 2020 to finance a little more than half of the so-called Corona reconstruction aid of 750 billion euros through joint borrowing was a first step on the right path. Just as the compromise on the so-called rule of law mechanism of November 2020 was a step forward.

Assuming the approval of Parliament and the Council of the EU, the EU Commission can in future propose to withdraw funds from various European funds from a country if it violates binding principles of the rule of law. So far, Europe has not found the courage to follow these paths consistently. This is not surprising, because the contractual requirements are currently missing.

Europe has no choice. If it does not want to fail irrevocably, some states, including the economic power Germany and the nuclear power France, must take action. That sounds more daring than it actually is. There are precedents. In 1951, six states brought into being the so-called coal and steel union, the nucleus of today’s EU; In 1999, after years of preparation, eleven EU states, including its six founding members, introduced a common currency and thereby renounced an essential feature of nation-state sovereignty. This is one of the reasons why there is much to suggest that the initiative for a new Europe must come from within this so-called Euro Group.

The principles on which the initiators must agree include: the implementation of the majority vote in a format that is based on the failed constitution of October 2004; the possibility of effective sanctions up to and including the exclusion of members who do not comply with common legal provisions or, for example, in the case of jointly incurred debts, fail to comply with decisions of the community; the further development of the monetary union into a fiscal union; the definition of a closed European legal system; the development of a practicable migration and asylum policy; the formulation of a binding and sustainable resource, energy and environmental strategy and, last but not least, a supranational army worthy of the name.

European army with French nuclear weapons

Whoever wants this army must insist that the French nuclear weapons be brought into it. This has so far been categorically ruled out by Paris. Macron’s offer to enter into a dialogue with the European partners about these systems should be accepted. Every step that leads us out of the impasse in which European defense policy has been stuck for 70 years is worth taking.

In the spring of 2020, EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell summed up where we stand against the backdrop of the escalating situation in the Syrian region of Idlib: “We would like to speak the language of power, but at the moment we cannot decide for ourselves. “This helplessness is pathetic. And it’s dangerous. Because without its own, globally operational army, a Europe that is left to its own devices in the event of doubt will neither be able to cope with the future tasks nor will the continent count on American support.

Since NATO, too, has seen its prime in 30 years, such an army is also a crucial prerequisite for transforming the frozen transatlantic alliance into a living partnership. The times in which we Europeans leaned back, let America take care of things and often accompanied American crisis management with arrogant comments are over.

In the foreseeable future, the United States will withdraw from the African and Oriental crisis areas, i.e. from regions of the world whose development is of little importance for it, but of existential importance for Europe.
Against this background, we have no choice but to get involved on the ground massively, possibly also militarily, as the French are currently doing in the Sahel zone.

Germany must not leave defense to others

Because this ties up forces and costs money, Paris twice asked Germany in 2019 whether it could provide capacities for training and supporting special military forces. In relation to the latter, the answer was a smooth rebuff, and that also meant that dangerous missions such as the smashing of the Al-Qaeda leadership in the Sahel zone in spring 2020 were left to others.

Of course, the decision to provide the Bundeswehr with a so-called robust mandate for its foreign missions needs to be carefully examined on a case-by-case basis. But those who basically leave these and other tasks to others not only contribute to the fact that the facade of European solidarity, which has been painstakingly maintained, continues to crumble, but also refuses to recognize that elementary tasks can only be tackled together.

This includes combating the causes that force hundreds of thousands to leave their homes and migrate north. We share responsibility for these causes. Because we knew what was coming. Those who do not believe this should read the report of the Commission for International Development Issues, the so-called North-South Commission, which Willy Brandt, its chairman, presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations in February 1980.

Kill the “monster of Maastricht”

We ignored that. We suppressed it. We thought we could get away with handouts. Today it is too late for strategic preventive intervention in most cases. What remains is the fight against wars and massacres, fires and floods, plagues and epidemics on site: by all means, quickly, specifically, massively and – if there is no other way, as with the fight against terrorism or smuggling crime – military. We Europeans can only achieve this if our common house has a solid foundation.

Which means that the timetable is fixed: first the foundation, then the house. The design flaw of today’s European Union, which was launched in February 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty and cemented in the subsequent treaties, must under no circumstances be repeated. If the initiators want a political union that deserves this name, they have to forego a significant part of their nation-state sovereignty without any ifs or buts.

If they do so, they will inevitably also succumb to the monstrosity of Maastricht, the 250-page compromise with which the heads of state and government did not dare to start again, but instead transferred an outdated order from the divided to the globalized world. The chance that Europe will bring itself to these and other decisions is slim. But there is. We should use it.
The text is a preprint of the book by Gregor Schöllgen and Gerhard Schröder “Last Chance. Why we need a new world order now, ”which is being published by DVA these days.

More: The EU wants to distribute billions of euros – but Italy and Spain have problems

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Macronie is a neoliberal nanny state

Tribune. Since the start of the pandemic, the Macronian state has regularly provided infantilizing advice which gives it the form of a nanny state. But far from neo-liberal criticisms of the welfare state, this nanny state is itself symptomatic of the bankruptcy of public services.

Historical reminders

Even before the Allied victory in 1945, the United Kingdom had envisaged, notably through the Beveridge report (1942), the establishment of a welfare state which would turn the page on the unequal society of before-1939. The trumpeted goal was to provide aid that could cover vital needs and protect against accidents of life. “From the cradle to the tombstone” («from the cradle to the grave»). The debates which agitated the National Council of Resistance in France were of the same nature.

Read alsoCovid-19: the return of the welfare state?

In the United States, a very embryonic form of the welfare state had been set up under Roosevelt with the New Deal, but it was the GI Bill of Rights (1945), much more ambitious, which was to constitute the legislative arsenal allowing to millions of Americans to rise up socially. Lyndon B. Johnson’s reforms in the 1960s would follow: war on poverty, etc. However, this welfare state across the Atlantic is weak. For example, if it is officially color blind, the GI Bill of Rights has overwhelmingly benefited whites.

Jill Quadagno, in The Color of Welfare (not translated), has also shown that redistributive policies owe their weakness precisely to the fact that they are perceived by the greatest number as aids provided to “Undeserving blacks”. This is also how we should read Reagan’s speech to the 1976 Republican primaries, on the «Welfare Queen», this welfare fraud queen everyone believed to be black, despite the lack of explicit reference to color in Reagan rhetoric.

The nanny state

In Britain, the stigma of state interference in all areas – especially in the area of ​​costly, unnecessary welfare benefits, going to the undeserving, it is believed – takes the form of ” Nanny state ” («Nanny State»), hateful joke that points the finger at “Cancer of the assistantship”, to use Laurent Wauquiez’s metaphor. The expression is so well known that it was recently ironically taken over by the Brewdog brewery in Scotland to sell a hoppy beverage now found in supermarkets.

In France, and even if our country is probably no exception as the neo-liberal state has imposed itself as the norm, the pandemic has imposed a very strange type of nanny state, a nanny state of a purely discursive type, where infantilizing exhortations can no longer be counted, but where, very far from an omnipresent State, they actually illustrate the weakness of public services, from hospitals to universities.

Soap, New Year’s Eve, candy

On March 12, not having enough masks in public stocks, Emmanuel Macron urged the French to wash their hands with “soap”, which made the children laugh a lot once the schools reopened: the “Head of France” had started talking “Like mom and dad” ! Before Christmas, Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education and Research, asked the students not to party too much during the holidays. For once, it must not have made them laugh. But who is she, they probably wondered, that dotted minister to give us advice on how to spend our time off campus? Doesn’t it have other things to do, with all these universities in distancing mode, which accumulate vicissitudes, structural problems, serious deficiencies of all kinds, for lack of money?

Read alsoMacron and the mirage of the welfare state

Last Monday in Cergy (Val-d’Oise), the same minister justified the distancing for all students, by insisting on the problems induced by the mixing of people. The problem, according to him, “It is not the course in the amphitheater, but the student having a coffee during the break, a candy lying on the table…”. A textbook case of the neo-liberal nanny state: we don’t have enough rooms, not enough resources, not enough teachers, the supervision is iniquely limited compared to the preparatory classes, but please do not not take this candy off the table, because it may be contaminating. Rhetoric, as we can see, is not only infantilizing but also guilty, with a reversal of the culprit-fault relationships. Because it is the victims who are to blame: the young people who are only partiers, those who do not wash their hands, those who take the candy on the table.

If the distancing mode at the university were to last much longer, in defiance of the alarm signals which multiply, Frédérique Vidal will perhaps lavish the following advice: “No, to commit suicide, it is not good.” The nanny state would then have gone from grotesque to morbid mode, and that no one can wish for.

Olivier Esteves professor at the University of Lille

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Photography downgraded within the Ministry of Culture

This government definitely has a serious problem with images and photography. Let us judge: it was on the sly that the morning of December 31 was published in Official newspaper a decree reorganizing the Ministry of Culture relegating the delegation to photography to the rank of a simple “office”. A sub-category in the ministerial arcana.

After seeing its freedom to inform abused in the streets by the global security law, photography now sees its status taking a serious blow. It took years for Culture, gradually realizing the importance of the stakes and the difficulties of a profession in the process of impoverishment, ended up creating a department within it which is dedicated to it, in the same way. as dance, music or theater. The initiative launched by Frédéric Mitterrand had taken five years to materialize under Françoise Nyssen. It is finally swept aside three years later by Roselyne Bachelot.

The National Center of Photography

Photographers and agencies have however multiplied the forums to alert the public authorities and we have extensively relayed them in our pages. To try to understand the evils which gnaw the profession, the governments successively launched assizes, observatories and recently a “parliament of photography”. The response to this commotion is scathing: photography is relegated to the rank of a sub-category, a sub-art. At least, that has the merit of closing this eternal debate: is photography an art? The photographer Gustave Legray, founder of the Société française de photographie, which took part in the first major French order in 1851 (the heliographic mission), expressed the wish that “Photography, instead of falling into the domain of industry, of commerce, falls into that of art”. He has to turn around in his grave and all the photographers with him. Yet an obvious solution is before our eyes.

No need to make umpteenth reports or other commissions. The observation is obvious and already known for a long time: a strong organization is needed for this artistic expression of which France is the cradle. There is still time to recreate the National Center for Photography, modeled on the National Center for Cinematography (CNC) to support creation and its dissemination, and to have a real tool for developing public policy. Last May, Emmanuel Macron promised a large-scale national order, but beyond this broken promise, it is a global and sustainable funding and dissemination system that must be put in place. The CNC saved French cinema, there is still time to save photography and the growing economic potential in a digital world which cannot exist without images and therefore without its image producers.

Lionel charrier

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Over 2 million deaths worldwide



Coronavirus update: Over 2 million deaths worldwide






























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The One Planet Summit ends with promises and little progress for biodiversity

Published on :

End of the 4th edition of the One Planet Summit, this great annual summit meeting, launched in 2017 by President Macron and United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres. This year, the theme was biodiversity, a step in the objective of the future biodiversity COP. Under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, Prime Ministers, representatives of central banks and international institutions have apparently reached a consensus.

A conference full of promises and good intentions. So many announcements and an ambitious record that the President of the Republic has summarized in four points.

First, the protection of biodiversity: 50 states are committed to the coalition for the high ambition of nature, to protect 30% of ecosystems by 2030.

Then, the protection of the Mediterranean, which implies putting an end to overfishing, greening maritime transport, and developing protected areas.

Third, the promotion of agroecology, with 14 billion euros in international public and private funding for “ great green wall “, By 2025.

And finally, the protection of forests, notably with Prezode, an international cooperation program between researchers and health professionals to prevent future pandemics and zoonoses.

One thus spoke a lot about money, and besides, for the NGO Attac, one evoked especially the market value of nature, without questioning the economic causes of its degradation.

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