opinion | Against deindustrialization, let’s have the courage to be European!

By Valerie Hayer (Co-chairman of the French delegation of the centrist group Renew)

Posted on December 7, 2022 at 4:41 pm

A “general” and “structural response”, the idea of ​​”subsidies made in Europe” or even a fund to “support industrial projects”… In their own words, President Ursula von der Leyen, President Emmanuel Macron and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton are several has been saying the same thing for days: it’s time to dare to be ambitious. Daring to give us the tools of our European sovereignty.

For several months now, Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and its consequences for Europeans have gradually exposed Europe’s dependencies and weaknesses. Investing in defense seemed antiquated—it’s not anymore. The development of industry in our lands seemed like an old fashion – it is no longer so. Building our energy independence seemed like a pipe dream – it is no longer the case.

But while our American partner is preparing a $400 billion Deflation Act to support its industry, our priorities are not making it a reality on our side of the Atlantic. Therefore, the creation of this European Sovereignty Fund is urgent. The “Renewal Europe” group, which has been at the forefront of this issue since February, gave me a mandate to outline the main lines. Take measure. In Europeans.

Europe must remain safe and prosperous

Because it is time to invest in our European sovereignty. Reality hits us all. And the reality is harsh. The European budget still has several billion euros until 2027 to deal with the consequences of the war on our doorstep, not to mention any new crises. Consequences for our security, our economy, our industry.

There is good news. Here it is: there is no death. Let us dare to invest in reducing our dependence, relocating our critical industries and finally gaining our strategic autonomy. Thus, the European economy will not have to tremble with every geopolitical upheaval.

The current budget does not leave us much choice. The creation of a fund dedicated to investments that will ensure our independence seems to be the only viable option. For this purpose, the European Parliament supported the creation of such a fund back in May. It is for this purpose that Ursula von der Leyen announced her desire to create this fund for European sovereignty, repeating it in Bruges on October 4 in September. So that Europe remains a safe and prosperous country.

Financing this strategic autonomy

After the “what” and the “why” comes the “how”. We are here. In order to be sustainable and anchored in the state policy, this fund is planned to be integrated into the EU budget. How to finance it? With general credit as a European recovery plan. Also with the creation of “sovereign bonds” unprecedented in the world: bonds issued to finance the continued defense of the Union.

Such a fund would allow states to free themselves from hydrocarbon reserves extracted from the Urals and Siberian frontiers and establish new partnerships. Moreover, our industry would have everything to gain if key components such as batteries and chips required from now on were produced here. Not in a distant country whose values ​​and priorities may differ from ours. But here. At home.

We will have to act quickly. We need to step up as an industry. An ambitious project to finance this strategic autonomy, we will only be able to achieve it if we allow ourselves to. Without this project, our European model, economy and values ​​will remain vulnerable. This project includes solidarity with Ukraine and everyone who shares our ideals.

The turning point of European solidarity

Finally, a word to those who think the Union is too weak to act. I am simply reminding them of the unprecedented scale of sanctions that have been passed in record time. I remind them how decades-old European taboos have been thrown out on the occasion of the European recovery plan, which seemed unthinkable a few years ago but today finances 40% of France Relance.

I remind them of the recent, historical decisions of the Scandinavian countries and Germany in terms of the defense of Europe. I simply say to them: open your eyes to the unprecedented turn of solidarity in Europe where we live. Because today, Europe is ready to take giant steps in the crisis period, even accustomed to it (!).

This is what European citizens expect and we intend to achieve it. But now the Union must complete its transformation. The time has come for this European Sovereign Wealth Fund. It’s time to show ourselves what Europeans expect.

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