François Bayrou: "If Europe doesn't have a coordinated response, it will explode."
François Bayrou was Apolline de Malherbe's guest this Wednesday, the 1st of April at 8:35 am, on BFM TV and RMC, in the TV show Bourdin Direct. The full interview in French is available on the website of the Democratic Movement.
Apolline de Malherbe : When you hear the French government announcing a number of measures to help companies and employees every day, you have always been one of those who say: Beware, we must not increase the deficit, we must not increase the debt.
Obviously, these are exceptional times. Does that mean that there should be no more limits, that we can push as long as it takes?
François Bayrou : No more restrictions, I'm not saying that. I'm saying one thing specifically. In the days when I campaigned to warn against increasing the debt - and it is clear today that if we had more room for manoeuvre it would be better like a number of countries around us - the debt was a national debt.
I believe that the situation today is extremely different because all this expenditure that we have to make, all this aid that we have to provide to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, must no longer, cannot be just a national debt.
Why coronavirus? It's nobody's fault. There is not one country in the world that one can say: they are the ones who have made mismanagement, so they have only to take responsibility for their actions.
What I believe, on the contrary, is that this calamity affecting the whole world, which began in China, which is in Europe, which tomorrow will be in the United States, in South America, in Africa, with the difficulties that we are seeing, this calamity must be borne by the whole of humanity, it must be borne by the political organisations of the whole of humanity.
For me, it must be a shared debt.
Central banks - the European Central Bank has already made a number of choices that are right and the American Central Bank has gone even further - must agree that the consequences of this disaster that has struck mankind must be borne by all mankind./p>
Should a new organization be created above the central banks? Should we, like the United Nations was created at one point, imagine new governing bodies to effectively share this burden?
I'm not at all in favour of creating additional organizations all the time, I think we need to make existing organizations work more efficiently.
The cooperation between central banks, as you can see, whether it is official or unofficial throughout the world, in reality exists between the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.
You can see there's a shared consideration. Although it is not official, it is in any case unofficial.
I hope that the People's Bank of China will also be able to take part, as well as the Bank of Japan, in this consideration.
Once again, this is a catastrophe that affects all of humanity without anyone being responsible. There is no one anywhere on the planet who bears responsibility for it.
So we have to face it together.
We would like to believe in this form of optimism about a shared burden, about coming together to deal with it, except that what we are seeing, even at European level, is a bit like the law of the strongest, or in any case the law of every man for himself, every country trying to gain time over the others.
Jacques Delors even came out of his usual silence to talk about a serious threat. I quote: "The climate prevailing between the Heads of State and Government and the lack of solidarity put the European Union in mortal danger".
We are a long way from what you would expect from a form of solidarity.
What I hope is that they will be forced to do so regardless of their starting position, because the threat is immense.
You can see that, if Europe does not have a coordinated response to this shared burden, then it will explode.
You can see that we cannot say: we are abandoning Italy to its fate, we are abandoning Spain to its fate, we are abandoning France to its fate, because you will see that, beyond our borders, the problems, the calamities, the victims and the number of people affected show that there is a deep-rooted unity of the European continent and that this unity cannot be discarded solely in the name of budgetary, national egoism. I am very shocked by the position of the Netherlands.
The Netherlands has organised a tax system so that large companies prefer to locate their European headquarters in the Netherlands, but it cannot be considered that they are exempt from any effort from that point on. I believe exactly the opposite.
I think it is necessary, in a way, to block the meter at the beginning of this crisis and to analyse the expenditure that is being made across the whole of the European continent to combat this coronavirus pandemic.
This part of public budgets must be shared as much as possible, and this is the very concept of the European Union.
That it is almost a break, including in the calculation of the deficits of the various states?
We're not really calculating the different states anymore. I believe that this period, for the time being, has been put in brackets, and it is good that it is.
You can see that what is at issue is the greatest crisis in living memory on the entire planet for several centuries. This crisis does indeed have an extremely dangerous health aspect, but you can see that the world's economy has come to a standstill in all latitudes and in all countries. Today, almost one in two of the world's inhabitants is confined, and those who are not are at terrible risk.
I am thinking about Africa, we have just seen that Pape Diouf was unfortunately the first to die of the corona virus in Senegal, but you can imagine the risks of contagion, the risks of contagion in South America, and you will see that all the Heads of State who wanted in some way to shrug their shoulders and consider that it was not for them, that they were going to be smarter than the others, that they were going to play with the pandemic, all of them are now forced to do a 180-degree turn and take a different position; that was the case with Boris Johnson, that's the case with Donald Trump, that will be the case with Jair Bolsonaro tomorrow in Brazil.
We are obliged to consider that the efforts and constraints resulting from this pandemic affect all the countries of the world.
So, you think there will be a before and an after?
From this point of view, the work on independence...
There will have to be a before and an after, because I do not believe for a second that society will start again after a health, economic, social and perhaps democratic crisis of this kind, as it did before.
I do not believe that the way of living together, of greeting each other will be the same as before, many things will change and, in a way, there may also be hope in the fact that so many things will change in society.
We will stay on that word, the word of hope, which we all want and need right now.
Thank you François Bayrou.
Toutes les aides qu'on doit apporter pour faire face au #COVID19france doivent être portées par l'humanité toute entière. Ce doit être une dette partagée entre les organisations, les banques centrales. #BourdinDirect— François Bayrou (@bayrou) April 1, 2020