EU needs to play a determinant role

Centre européen de Sciences Po
All political and economical actors, as well as observers in France, strongly underlined the determinant role that the European Union needs to play in the regulation of financial capitalism. The French Presidency announced its willingness to strengthen and increase the EU prerogatives in terms of financial regulation, especially on financial institutions.[1] Nicolas Sarkozy underlined the necessity of reinforcing the rules of governance and internal control within these institutions, and of a better control of rating agencies. The report elaborated by French ‘Commissaire aux Comptes’, René Ricol, on the financial crisis draws conclusions leading to this direction. Among them, it suggests to allow the European Parliament to tackle the issue of the recent increase of raw material’s prices.[2] As for French Trade Unions, they are largely advocating for a strong role of the EU in regulating the economic and financial system. As the major Trade Union CFDT points out, “the positive role of tense periods is to rediscover the role of the EU and its institutions […] Managing these difficulties imposed urgent and coordinated initiatives with undreamt success, even regarding the financial crisis”.[3]
Unity prevailed throughout the crisis
From a general point of view, the way EU member states managed to deal with the financial crisis are quite well evaluated in France. The unity that prevailed between the member states is the first point underlined by political actors. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, was proud to announce the good understanding among the European member states. He also highlighted the fact that France stands firmly in favour of a new international regulation system, which should be transparent and well controlled.[4] French MEP Alain Lamassoure also underlined the fact that the EU managed to stand united to deal with the financial crisis, qualifying the October European Council, in which the Action Plan has been unanimously approved by the 27 member states, as “exceptional”.[5] Even if the tense relations between the French and German Heads of State have been emphasised, the final compromise, very important for the success of the Eurogroup meetings, is considered as a political victory.[6] The Action Plan adopted by the 15 members of the Eurogroup is seen as a good way to preserve the financial system stability.
All political, social and economical actors, as well as experts and observers, are advocating for more regulation on the international stage. However, the G20 Summit, held in November 2008 in Washington, in which the EU advocated for a complete revision of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been considered with some scepticism in France. Even the President of the IMF, French economist Dominique Strauss Kahn, underlined the fact that changes in the international system will not be easy to reach. “Things are not going to change from one day to another. It took two years to prepare Bretton Woods. A lot of people are talking about a Bretton Woods II. It sounds good but we are not going to create a new international Treaty”, he said.[7]

[1] La Tribune, 02 September 2008.

[2] Ricol R., Rapport sur la crise financière, Septembre 2008, available at: (last access: 26 February 2009).

[3] CFDT, “L’Europe active, utile et efficace”, 15 December 2008, Communiqué de presse, available at: (last access: 26 February 2009).

[4] Gestion internationale de la crise financière. Réponse du Ministre des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes, M. Bernard Kouchner, à une question d’actualité au Sénat, Paris, 30 October 2008.

[5] L’Express, 17 October 2008

[6] Le Point, 10 October 2008.

[7] Interview, LCI, 08 November 2008.