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The former French President “VGE” welcomed by EM Strasbourg Business School!

Publié le March 13, 2015, Mis à jour le January 13, 2016

On 11 February, upon the initiative of the European Movement Alsace, EM Strasbourg Business School hosted a conference by former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing on the occasion of the release of his book « Europa – The Last Chance for Europe ».

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

At age 89, the former French president is still intent on playing a role in where Europe is heading to. In a conference chaired by MEP Jean-Marie Cavada and featuring guest attendee EM Strasbourg Business School President François Loos, he outlined his project for the European Union. « When I first came to Strasbourg, it was on board an armoured tank, back in 1945. Today, I have come to speak about Europe in the business school of a city turned European capital. I feel delighted because education is a priority challenge in implementing the European project», Valéry Giscard d’Estaing contended.

As a staunch European, he has unflinchingly believed in the project initiated by the French-German couple after World War II.  He, however, reminded the audience that the stakes for the Union were no longer the same as when its primary purpose was to guarantee peace.


Monetary « Europa »

In order to advance the European project, the former president called for a euro zone in which « those who wish to keep this strong currency must strictly abide by the rules ».  He made this clear by pointing to the political agenda of Greece’s new government, which seems at odds with this principle.
Following an economic federation model, « Europa » would combine the single currency with a « Europa Treasury », a sort of common tax service whose purpose would be the issuance of common European bonds instead of twenty-eight different bonds from the twenty-eight member countries.

« It is up to us to invent a new tax system, we need a common budget policy. Just like the United States, Europa must levy a single tax on companies, individuals and wealth and ensure a minimum level of mutual financial assistance based on precisely determined criteria. »

Pictures © Clément Renaut

A fiscal federation

This new model of European integration would lead some euro zone countries to achieve a budgetary and fiscal union. As for technical hurdles, the former president reckoned that no obstacle was unsurmountable, and he placed his trust in the generations to come.

When asked questions by the audience, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing replied with humour and a degree of irreverence. What about the Ukrainian crisis? « Past jobs leave their marks on all of us », he observed about former KGB officer Vladimir Poutine. Will you run for the next presidential elections? « Now that you are mentioning it, I’m just wondering ! »

He also lamented the paradox in the British situation, another question raised at the conference. « Britain isolated itself. They joined the European Union without having ever really integrated into its structure ». However, he called for a Europe with Great Britain, a country which is an economic powerhouse and a historical member. Concerning the issues posed by EU enlargement, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing bemoaned the state of the police and judiciary systems in some members countries like Rumania and Bulgaria while reminding that these countries « are to be an integral part of the project ». He also advocated a very practical approach in order to improve the efficiency of the dialogue between member states, preferably within small appointed committees rather than a regular assembly of all twenty-eight members. « Just do the maths », he urged the audience, « how much do five minutes of speaking time multiplied by twenty-eight add up to ? »

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François Loos' Welcoming words

François Loos, former minister, Vice-Chair of the Regional Council and EM Strasbourg Business School President, opened the conference delivered by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in Strasbourg on 11 February.

"For our students, Europe is a reality, and its demise is unthinkable. In January, the School invited students from 12 different nationalities to take part in a debate at the European Parliament. Gathered in 7 political groups, the participants discussed the labelling of organically grown produce, just like MEPS at the European Parliament.

During that same month, EM Strasbourg Business School was awarded the first prize of the "Moniteur du Commerce International" (the oldest specialized periodical in international trade) for our international Master’s degree in European Management Studies. [...] our school is fundamentally European, widely open to the world and extremely proud to be hosting you. Thank you.
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