Ignoring years of stagnation, economic deterioration, and an unprecedented unemployment rate, which remains stubbornly in the double-digits for countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, Europe appears to have finally woken up, shocked by the reality of Brexit and the Trump election, and has started with the fire and brimstone warnings. Case in point: French prime minister Manuel Valls, who speaking in Berlin, said that the European Union is in danger of breaking apart unless France and Germany, in particular, work harder to stimulate growth and employment and heed citizens' concerns.
"Europe is in danger of falling apart," Valls said at an event organized by the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. "So Germany and France have a huge responsibility."
Translation: confirming what we have said for years, the ECB did nothing for the economy while propping up markets, refuting the long-running official narrative, and now it is time to actually focus on the people, ideally by launching a massive fiscal spending stimulus.
As Reuters reports, Valls said it fell on Germany and France, for decades the axis around which the EU revolved, had to help refocus the bloc to tackle an immigration crisis, a lack of solidarity between member states, Britain's looming exit, and terrorism.
He said France must continue to open up its economy, not least by cutting corporate taxation, while Germany and the EU as a whole must increase investment that would stimulate growth and job creation, as well as boosting defense.
Taking a stab at the UK, Valls said that as Britain seeks to negotiate its post-Brexit relationship with the EU, hoping to restrict immigration from the EU while maintaining as much access as possible to the EU single market, it must be prevented from cherry-picking.
"If they are able to have all the advantages of Europe without the inconveniences, then we are opening a window for others to leave the European Union," Valls said. Immigration was one of the main drivers of Britons' vote to leave the EU, and Valls said the bloc, which more than a million migrants entered last year, had to regain control of its borders.
Still, confirming that the lessons of Brexit and the US election are finally seeping through, Valls said the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election victory showed how important it was to listen to angry citizens, and that "politicians scared of making decisions were opening the door to populists and demagogues."
In France, opinion polls suggest that the far-right, anti-EU, anti-immigration National Front leader Marine Le Pen will win the first round of the presidential election next April, before losing the runoff according to polls. However, if there is anything the past 6 months have demonstrated, it is how wrong they are at predicting black swan events such as a possible Le Pen presidency.