European unity should be more than just a photo opportunity, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an exclusive interview to Global Handelsblatt, Germany, on November 12, 2018. But while France is more than willing, Germany remains reluctant. Excerpts below:

It is all very well to express European unity during memorials for the fallen in past world wars. But genuine unity – political, financial and military – is still lacking inside the European Union, according to France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. In an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt, he indicates that Paris is more than willing for more Europe and the ball is now in Berlin’s court.

The European Union should become “a peaceful empire” in order to stand up to China, Le Maire argued. And although thanks to their wartime history, some Germans may find his talk of empire unattractive, Le Maire explains that, “I am using this phrase because, in tomorrow’s world, it’s going to be all about power … technological power, economic, financial, monetary, cultural power – all will be decisive. Europe cannot be shy any longer about using its power.”
Le Maire won’t go as far as to say that German politicians have been two-faced about European unity. But he did set a small deadline: “We have talked about it for a long time. Now it’s time for decisions. And there will be decisions made on December 4, at the next meeting of the economy and finance ministers. I cannot imagine anything else.”

“The people of Europe have had enough of the babble from Brussels. They want to see action.”

One of the most striking recent examples where European power proved lacking was with the latest US sanctions on Iran.

Comment: Does France really want a ”peaceful empire”. Empires generally seek to expand their territory like China in the South China Sea and Russia in Ukraine. America, for instance, is not an empire. It is a hegemon, and it should be. A hegemon, like ancient Athens, is a first-among-equals, a very powerful nation that nevertheless deals with its neighbors and allies as much as equals as circumstances will permit, respecting their sovereignty, their internal processes, the rights of their people. It functions together for the greater good of the whole, not simply of the center as does an empire.

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