'Building Europe is a great challenge': Jacques Delors

posted 7 May 2010, 20:00 by Stefan Gigacz   [ updated 7 May 2010, 20:35 ]
Former French YCW leader Jacques Delors, later a trade unionist who eventually became 8th President of the European Commission reflects with his granddaughter Clementine Aubry on Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the appeal by Robert Schuman which led to the founding of what is now the European Union.

Original interview by La Croix in French may be found here:

Below is a rough Google translation of the interview.

See also the following links:

Jacques Delors (Wikipedia)

Robert Schuman (Wikipedia)

"Building Europe is a great challenge"

To mark the 60th anniversary of the appeal of Robert Schuman, "The Cross" asked Jacques Delors to interact with his granddaughter Clementine Aubry 

Jacques Delors and his granddaughter Clementine Aubry (Bruno Levy / The Cross). 

Cross . Jacques Delors, you remember the May 9, 1950?

 Jacques Delors : Yes, I remember very well. I was 25. I worked at the Bank of France in Paris, while completing my graduate studies. My father, who was maimed in the war of 1914, was suspicious of the Germans. On the other hand, as was a man of reconciliation, he wondered what action find. This action came May 9, 1950. 

On May 9 it is marked with a special way in your family?

 Clementine Aubry : Frankly, no. On May 9, it's like March 8th, the Women's Day. A day to think more about Europe. For my generation, Europe is part of everyday life. As a matter of course. 

How do you cope with this "evidence" on a daily basis?

 AC : Being young, I did a lot of trips to Italy with my parents in Tuscany, Venice. I speak French, English and Italian. Now I can go see such an exhibition in London, or spend a weekend in Berlin, Budapest and Rome, according to the places where my friends are installed. This movement in Europe is natural. The horizon is wider integrated. In the news too, I attach much importance to what is happening in other European countries than in France. We share a bit more the lives of Europeans than other people. It feels more cohesive as a friend. 

Talk to you also in Europe with your grandfather?

 AC : Yes. During graduate school, we talked a lot about economics, the euro, monetary policy. And made a journey together that marked me tremendously: in 1992, we had taken with my grandmother in Salamanca, where he received a doctorate honoris causa, and Barcelona Olympics. 

Europe thus invited himself to the family table?

 JD : No. During the ten years I spent in Brussels, I had specific meetings with government leaders, members of the board or senior officials. But we do not do that with mixed family gatherings. A natural distinction, and evident to our family. 

The referendum campaign for the constitutional treaty in 2005, has been hotly debated in families. At home too?

 JD : No. The constitutional treaty has never packed. But, for policy reasons, I had to vote "yes". Although few weeks before, we foresaw that the "no" would prevail. 

CA : For me, I thought that voting "yes" vote was for Europe. There are too few opportunities to do so. 

The French have forgotten, so on May 9 and the gesture of Robert Schuman?

 JD : In part, yes. Probably because peace seems gained, despite the horrors we see on television. But also because globalization frightens people and encourages them to withdraw into themselves, on their home communities nearest the nation. A form of rampant nationalism exploited by demagogues of all stripes, a rise of populism, not only in the far-right parties, but also in the language of many politicians. 

The people have difficulty accepting a horizon as wide as Europe. They prefer the fold, do you?

 CA : Making Europe today ' Today, it is very hard. It is useless to say that France should follow the Nordic model of social relations and social security, we realize we can not transpose it, snapping his fingers. And because of our history. We can not appropriate a model, it is also European, so close to us. We bump into our characteristics. This makes it increasingly difficult to add new stones in the great European edifice. 

Differences between countries are therefore irreducible ...

 AC : No. For in the same time, these differences do not threaten the European balance. The weaknesses of one are the strengths of others. And the idea at the basis of the European market, is to share it. There are still some issues common to all countries, beyond the political issues: the development and ecology. Besides, I find it interesting that the only party that has talked to people in the European elections last year was Europe Ecology. 

JD : The Europeans not idealise Europe. I myself have never been a federalist pure sugar. But the question for Europe, now is the survival or decline! We represented 15% of the world population after the Second World War, now 6% and 3% in 2040. Look to profile the G2 (USA-China) and the role of emerging countries. 

Europe is a battle for the lifestyle and freedom of the Europeans of tomorrow! I always thought that if our country - have a great story - do not unite in a form to find realistic and reasonable, we would leave to the generations that come after those Clementine, a continent flaccid, threatened in its level life in its social achievements and influence. 

The initiative of Robert Schuman can disappear ...

 JD : Europe could maintain its skeleton, but moving towards a sort of OECD. As a couple who stay married without living together. This can happen to Europeans. We simply keep the trappings of a past period. Yet nothing is forever. There in the history of Europe of the highlights. 

When they tried to make the euro, 65% of Germans were against the abandonment of their national currency. Helmut Kohl has decided to convince and to succeed, he has not indulged in disparaging remarks about the country's "Club Med" of the time. To me, the barrier has been crossed in 1950 Robert Schuman, proposed the pooling of coal and steel French and German, basic power, five years after the end of the war, was infinitely greater than the obstacles faced by today's Europeans. 

CA : Going back to today and the lack of personalities such as Robert Schuman, which echoed to me is the boost that Europe received at the time of the election of Barack Obama. If I had been there in 1950, I felt the same emotion that watching the inauguration speech of the new U.S. president on YouTube. 

I'm attached to his manner of expression, to convey his vision, lie above. I said, "we need someone like that!" Surprisingly not in France but in Europe. I think today that is missing. Not necessarily a person, it may be a combination of personalities. 

In what order would you describe yourself: French or European?

 AC : I would say French and European on the same plane. 

JD : Me too. That is why the question of survival or decline of Europe is essential. 

CA : What is happening now in Europe is very important. It is a time when we must put a boost. The no shortage of subjects: Social Europe, Europe and financial systems, Europe and ecology. 

The crisis in Greek and that of the euro are you concerned?

 CA : I have a form of empathy for what happens to the European peoples. Schuman's Europe has created "de facto solidarity". I do not deny there are problems at the national level to accept a European economic governance. But Europe must grasp of current events to advance in this field. 

JD : To make the euro, there was no total transfer of economic sovereignty, but a partial transfer. An unconditional solidarity of the member countries was not accepted. I denounced in 1997 the imbalance between economic and monetary policy, hence our current difficulties. 

Today, the euro as a major political conquest is threatened. It is therefore not enough to tell a country to put its house in order in such conditions. Since the Council of Ministers of the euro did not see it coming four years, he is partly responsible. He must put his hand in his pocket for Greece. And adopt a governance model that combines economic development, financial stability and management of the Euro. 

And Belgium? His concern you break it?

 AC : It's crazy when you read the reactions of users to the sites of French newspapers. They say: "We are willing to take the Walloons, no problem. Incredible! I know less than you Belgium (turning to his grandfather), but I really feel two cultures and two mentalities. What Flemings and Walloons, it is not the same people. What is happening is not surprising. At the same time, it would make sense that they can live together. 

JD : For me, as yet viscerally attached to Belgium and I have to cry my eyes, see the split between Serbia and Montenegro or the future of Flanders and Wallonia (provided they have solved the problem of Brussels) is what Freud called "the cult of small differences" that makes us so badly. 

These people are not threats external. Imagine that tomorrow Belgium could be invaded by a neighbor, you think they would think about their small business? The climate of peace has softened, rendered less vigilant. 

Finally, the quote from Jean-Pierre Chevenement, who said in 1989 that the Wall "was one death, Jacques Delors, was right! In other words: more common threat, more Europe.

 JD : was well seen. But a few years later, I reminded him that I was still alive ... Today, people feel threatened by things more irrational. They also worried for the future of their children and their pensions. They do not feel the need to unite to face. 

CA : The more economic and social problems are Pregnant, plus the Community and animosities fall occur. It transcends Europe. It is also evident in our cities, our suburbs. We always want more to its neighbor when it is not going well. All European countries are affected by communal problems. Yet, Europe can afford the lifestyles are softer. 

Clementine Aubry, you work in culture. Here, Europe is ...

 CA : The culture is one area where the notion of Europe is more present in people's minds. The exchanges are so common. When you create a theatrical show, for example, fetch a Polish theater director. We listen to rock English or German electronic music (it's better to Berlin, but we can do it in Paris). This diversity is inherent in the culture. 

JD : I do not have the breadth of knowledge of Clementine. But speaking of culture, her mother, Martine, who introduced me to the current literature of the countries of Eastern Europe and I realized that these artists represent a significant part of European culture. It has not done enough to play this important dimension to the time of the entry of Eastern European countries into the EU. 

Clementine Aubry, would you consider living and working in another European country?

 CA : If one day I want to go, maybe it will be in Berlin, London or Naples. I know nothing. I do not say: "Is what I'm capable? But just "this will come perhaps. "This is neither an obstacle nor a goal. The richness of life abroad is to say that we are so different and yet we come to live together while maintaining its specificity. 

JD : The culture, it is lived. I'm glad to have created the Erasmus student exchange, when I was president of the European Commission. In any case, there would have been an Erasmus unofficial because all young people want to meet, but without the financial incentive of EU aid. Today, when we study sociology, economics, law in another country, get rich. Even if it does not then a European career. Young, so I wanted to know other cultures!