After going to London to fete Her Majesty in her Diamond Jubilee, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has climbed back aboard his military Airbus A310 and headed for the next capital on his European tour. Paris can be quite lovely in June, before the summer invasion of tourists. It is also a good time this year to get a reading on the new French President François Hollande.
The bad news is that Harper has his work cut out for him in trying to convince François Hollande of anything. Hollande is a socialist—which says it all as far as Stephen Harper is concerned. The first socialist in power in 17 years, in his first month in the Elysée Palace, Holland has already stated that his government will lower the retirement age for some French workers from 62 to 60. This is at a time when Mr. Harper is telling older Canadians that they better suck it up as they will not be able to draw old-age security until they are 67.
Mr. Harper brings a message to Hollande that has already been stated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Both leaders have said that Europe requires a strong political union to function effectively. Merkel made the point as early as this Thursday morning in Europe that the Eurozone countries have to give up more power. “We need not just a currency union; we also need a so-called fiscal union, more common budget policies. And we need above all a political union,” she said.
Mr. Harper said that the European members of the Eurozone will have to come up with a plan to make this happen. It is his opinion that Europe is a ‘half-done project’ that lacks the tools to get the job done. He said that he told Hollande that there needs to be quick action when the two met for breakfast. The French President was probably too much of a gentleman to tell the media what he said in return.
The only problem with the Harper-Merkel scheme is that many in Europe are contemplating that what the German armies could not accomplish in two world wars is now supposed to be as simple as a signature on a piece of paper.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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