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The misleading statements of the National Front concerning the Euro and the EU must be exposed!

The recent pronouncements by Marine Le Pen and her cronies concerning the withdrawal of France from the Euro (and the EU) are full of assertions as vague as contradictory if not deliberately false.

Thus, in her lengthy speech last Sunday in Bordeaux, she pretends that the content of what she refers to as “the (European) directive Sapin II” is being hidden from the French. This regulation calls for bailing in customer deposits as a prerequisite for accessing public funds in a bank restructuring as was the case – she adds – in Cyprus. She insists that leaving the Euro would protect French depositors.

This is a blatant tissue of lies: in the first place she omits to point out that since the financial crisis of 2008, all deposits throughout the Union, including Cyprus, are protected up to an amount equivalent to €100.000, which should shield the vast majority of her audience from confiscatory measures (except maybe those of her closest collaborators that may have benefitted from the financial shenanigans allegedly perpetrated by the National Front).

Furthermore, if it is correct that a limited bail-in of deposits that exceed the above mentioned limit is envisaged prior to benefitting from a bail out from the Eurozone financial solidarity mechanism, it should be pointed out that it applies only to the bank being restructured. Any customer lucky enough to enjoy such an abundance of liquidity could mitigate his risk by splitting his deposits between several banking institutions.
On the other hand, once France has regained full sovereignty over its currency, the ensuing devaluation (estimated by Le Pen herself at no more than 10% during a debate with the representatives of French industry (Medef)) will be felt by the entire French population who will see their purchasing power eroded following the resurgence of inflation induced by higher prices of imported products (oil, other commodities and consumer products made abroad aa well as the 3% import duty promised by the FN).

On top of this initial shock, one should add the estimated 20% (same debate) revaluation of the “German currency” (i.e. the €), unless Marine Le Pen envisages, without daring to say so, that the withdrawal by France from the Euro would automatically trigger the implosion of the single currency. Should that be the case, she should explain to her electorate how she intends to avoid the global financial crisis that would follow and how she would shield French citizens from its consequences. Should the € survive, the cost of any expenditure outside France would thus rise by a further 20% (travel, holidays, studies, etc.).

The true depreciation of the “new French franc” would therefor reach 30% rather than the 10% that Marine Le Pen admits to. It is the savings of all Frenchmen that would be amputated rather than those of a few wealthy depositors in a bank being restructured! Simultaneously, one can kiss goodbye to Le Pen’s encouragements she lavished on the youth in her speech to open themselves to the world and to gain experience from travels; she will have rendered such endeavours totally unaffordable. These promises had galvanised her Bordeaux audience who was totally spellbound and incapable of recognising the emptiness of her proposals and the insurmountable contradictions contained in her utopian program.

Finally it is important to expose a further emblematic though totally empty promise: the undertaking to negotiate the reform of the Union with “Brussels” immediately after her election! Indeed, if by “Brussels” she means the Commission, then she ought to know that this exceeds its remit unless it is specifically mandated by the European Council. However, she asserts simultaneously that several other Member States would join France in seeking such reforms. Should such a negotiation occur, it would be equivalent to convening an “intergovernmental conference”, which is a prelude to any Treaty change. This lengthy and complex procedure is incompatible, both in form and substance, with Le Pen’s promise to subject the result of the negotiations to a referendum within 6 months to decide France’s future within the EU.

It becomes clearly apparent that the true objective of Le Pen is to create the necessary conditions for a “Frexit” triggering simultaneously the end of the EU. Those who choose deliberately to go down this road in the vain hope of regaining the trappings of an (illusory) “national sovereignty” in a globalised and increasingly interdependent world, should accept that it implies a transition that will impose severe hardships, in particular on the weaker elements of society, which will be comparable in many respects with the sufferings imposed on the populations of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its disintegration.

Fighting eye-catching slogans which feed on fear, on withdrawal from the world and on stoking hatred of all things foreign, requires both pedagogy and lucidity. It behoves all democrats, whatever their legitimate differences, to unite in order to fight ignorance and remove the spectre of reigniting armed conflict on the European continent.

Paul N. Goldschmidt

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