If the 27-nations of the European Union want to re-launch their stagnating economies and EU political integration, it must be a collective effort and not that of one or even several leaders, and it will probably take years, according to Daniel Cohn-Bendit.


Speaking to some 20 AAPA members at the Paris headquarters of the European Parliament March 5, the outspoken leftist European deputy remarked that a relaunching of Europe has “never taken place in any one country,” and will require greater political will in the 27-nation bloc. Cohn-Bendit criticized the German-led austerity approach, saying governments must instead commit to expansionary economic policies. “Keynes must go to Brussels,” he declared.


The French-born German co-president of the Verts-ALE party in the European Parliament made it clear he fully supports Socialist Francois Hollande as France’s next president; and wished he had gone quickly to Berlin and struck a deal with opposition parties – the SPD and the Greens – supporting his contention that the EU treaty recently approved by EU leaders needs language supporting expansionary economic and social policies.


Instead, Hollande has stated repeatedly he plans to propose these changes directly to German leaders if  he is elected. By striking a deal now, he could have forced the current government to agree, as they need the SPD and Green votes for ratification in both the Bundestag and Bundesrat, Cohn-Bendit explained. “He should not be waiting until he is elected,” he added.


During a lively question-and-answer period that lasted one-and-a-half hour, “Danny the Red,” as he was known for his controversial, leadership role during the 1968 riots in France, also made the following points:


-One solution toGreece’s crisis is tackling and reforming the role and influence of the Greek Orthodox Church. Others include enforcing tax collection, and greatly reducing military spending under NATO auspices that currently represents some 4% of Greek’s GNP, roughly double the rate in France and Germany.


-It is entirely possible, if the EU member states agree someday, that the European Commission and the Council of Ministers of EU governments will be merged, with an enhanced role for the European Parliament. This might take years, he said.


-The EU should be playing a far greater, active role in supporting the Middle East peace process, but it is not. Partly responsible were the heads of state and government who named Britain’s Catherine Ashton, as the EU’s top diplomat; a far better choice, Cohn-Bendit declared, would have been Germany’s former foreign minister, Joschka Fischer.


-Following a long tenure in the European Parliament dating from 1994, he plans to retire in two years. “I will be 69 then,” and it will be time to move on, he said, without disclosing what he will do next. 

-Axel Krause