End EU’s ‘religious war’ over debt, says Macron
Europe must end its “religious war” over debt, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said. Macron outlined his approach to the euro area’s financial woes at a conference of German diplomats yesterday, pitting what he termed debt-scolding Calvinists against overindulgent Catholics. The two factions mirror the perceived rough divide between German-led budget disciplinarians in the north and Europe’s more indebted Mediterranean south. Speaking in Berlin, Macron at first needled the Calvinists with an articulation of a rigid view of debt. “Some people, some member-states, failed,” Macron said in English. “They didn’t respect their commitments. They have to pay it till the end of their life.” On the opposite end are the Catholics, “definitely France is on this side,” with an arguably more sanguine perspective on profligacy, Macron said. “We failed, but we go to church, we explain the situation and we can start another week the day after,” he said. The 21st-century version of the religious schism comes a month after German-backed austerity in the latest Greek crisis prevailed over calls by France and likeminded euro-area member states to ease off on the policy. “Probably, we have to find the balance between these two approaches,” Macron said in the speech, which was punctuated by calls for Franco-German unity, at times in German.