In a short but vehemently argued essay, Adler says only a political government of the eurozone led by France and Germany can ensure the survival and success of the single currency through much closer fiscal and economic union. He envisages a “pioneer group” of perhaps 10 of the 17 current euro members moving forward together, with a series of looser outer circles incorporating Britain and Turkey, and in the longer term possibly Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Adler’s recipe resembles the kind of political “directoire” that successive French governments have advocated in vain, with the power to overrule the free-marketeering technocracy of the European Commission. He says France needs to bring the same commitment to building Europe, including a willingness to sacrifice national sovereignty to the greater good of the euro, that General De Gaulle brought to restoring the French state and de-colonising Algeria from 1958. The eurozone may be too economically diverse to advance as a single bloc, he argues, suggesting it may have to split into two monetary unions for a decade to allow southern states, helped by a devaluation, to catch up in competitiveness and prepare for economic co-existence with a northern Deutschemark zone. France would, of course, be in the northern core group.
There are two big problems with Adler’s vision. First, few other eurozone countries share his view, including Germany which wants more central control over national budgets but is not keen to strip Brussels of its regulatory powers, not to lock itself into an inner core in which its view of strict fiscal discipline would be in a permanent minority. Second, each time in the 20 years since the Maastricht treaty that Berlin or others have proposed a further leap forward in political and economic integration, pooling more national sovereignty, the French have blocked it.