May 17, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson
Le Figaro, the French daily newspaper, is holding up better than any I read regularly under the blanketing tedium of the universal sickroom in which we’ve all been quarantined for the past few months, and the still worse monotony of the ceaseless and trivial squabbling among politicians jockeying for strategic and tactical advantage outside it. Still, by its standards, yesterday was—let us say—a quiet day for the paper, enlivened by two important articles. The first, by the excellent Philippe d’Iribarne, discusses how the French obsession with equality is damaging the struggle against Covid-19. (All the regions of France need to be subjected to precisely the same restrictions, whether they require them or not.) The second is by the redoubtable and irrepressible columnist and author Éric Zemmour, who pounces on the decision of a German constitutional court in Karlsruhe last week that (as he says) somehow “passed beneath the medias’ radars clouded over by confinement.” That may be so; but one wonders whether the mediatistas were deliberately looking the other way or casting their eyes downward to avoid having to report this stunning political disaster to their fellow citizens of the European Union.
What the Court did was simply this: It notified the European Central Bank that Mario Draghi’s massive purchase of the debts of other states since 2015 are illegal under the treaties that created the eurozone, and informed the European Court of Justice that there is no juridical order above those of the national states comprising the EU—that German law takes precedence over that of Brussels, and French law does also. Consider the impact this decision is certain to have on the European Union, coming directly after Brexit; the nasty disputes among member states over financial aid from the wealthy northern countries to the poorer southern ones (principally Italy and Spain) to help them cope with the aftermath of the pandemic; the quarrels over borders and freedom of movement around the Union in a time of panic; the pending departure of Angela Merkel from office; the economic slump and looming economic depression; and other threats to the plans for further–and final–European integration.
By comparison with this Herculean challenge, even holding the United States together after November 3 looks like child’s play.