Europe Daily Bulletin No. 12532

21 July 2020
Contents Publication in full By article 27 / 27
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No. 019

L’économie de la vie

In this work, Jacques Attali offers his analysis of the unprecedented public health, economic, philosophical, ideological, social, political and ecological crisis we are currently living through, with a recommendation to “move from the economy of survival to the economy of life as quickly as possible” (our translation throughout).

Humanity seems to be living through a nightmare and to have just one wish, one ambition, one prayer: for it to end and to get back to how the world used to be. I find this blindness infuriating, because even if the pandemic were to vanish, on its own or because of a vaccine or drug, there is no magic wand to take us back to our previous lifestyle”, states the author, who devotes the first chapter of his book to a swift but erudite overview of the history of infectious diseases, from the ancient past to the current day. In so doing, he creates an historical framework for his analysis which, he explains, owes a great deal to a “survey” he carried out along many individuals and experts, including a list of some of them at the end of the book.

Attali argues that the “possible but unnecessary confinement of more than half of humanity” was clearly a mistake which, by bringing the global economy to a halt, has caused the “worst economic, social and, soon, political crisis of the last three centuries”. He explains that this unprecedented measure is the result of governments’ failure to look ahead and take action and that it was a knee-jerk reaction “that prompted them” to opt for the model of the “Chinese dictatorship” rather than the more reasonable, and more fundamental rights-friendly, version implemented by South Korea, amongst others. “The right decision in Europe, at the end of February or possibly early March, would have been a commitment to the mass production of masks, tests and tracking applications, as the Koreans did (…). As we failed to follow suit, the pandemic exploded in mid-March”, leading to panic and widespread lockdown, the author stressed, condemning the unforgivable lies of senior politicians who claimed that masks were pointless and tests inadequate, in order to hide their own negligence. This untruth is now made even more blatant by the fact that the same politicians are now recommending face coverings be worn, if not making them compulsory.

The author goes on to provide what is necessarily a very bleak overview of the economic crisis caused by this terrible management of the pandemic: 20 million jobs gone and reduced income for at least 2 billion people, according to the ILO; 60 million jobs at risk in Europe; three times as many Africans suffering from malnutrition in 2020, or 200 million people, according to the WFP; global public and private debt approaching 300% of global GDP by the end of 2020.

If that were not enough, there is also a major geopolitical unknown, carrying risks of increased international instability, but possibly also a new window opportunity for Europe. “Today, many feel that this crisis will lead to the end of the supremacy of the United States and its replacement by China as the dominant nation. I do not believe this will happen. Quite the reverse, I think it will accelerate an evolution in which both the US and China will be weakened, as we move to a world without a master. A world more dangerous in different ways than a world dominated by an empire, whatever its nature. A world in which Europe will have every opportunity to be free, powerful and prosperous”, writes Attali, adding: “the European Union may even soon start looking to the rest of the world like a better model than the Chinese or American alternatives; it provides its citizens with better social protection; its standard of living is the highest in the world; it is made up only of democracies; its influence in the world is considerable. Its unity is becoming stronger in the crisis, whatever its detractors have to say on the matter: we have seen it make many decisions to reinforce its common economic and social action. Finally, despite all the attacks on it, its currency daily reinforces its reputation as a credible international reserve currency”. He goes on to argue that “if Europe manages to take advantage of the weakness of the two major players to unite and come together, which is by no means certain, it has a great future opening up before it. To do so, it would have to be capable of putting in place much stronger, much more democratic institutions and a major investment fund for the priority sectors of the economy of life”.

The author, who is deeply critical of the GAFAM and the “artificialisation of life”, with its “enormous consequences for the environment”, does not believe in negative growth, which he considers absurd: “to achieve the aim of limiting the rise in temperatures to 1.5°C by the end of the century, as set out in the Paris agreement, we would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% a year between 2020 and 2030. However, this is roughly what will be achieved in 2020 at the cost of a mighty recession: CO2 emissions will fall by 5.5% over the year 2020 (according to a study by Carbon Brief) to 8% (according to the IEA). To achieve the climate objective through negative growth, therefore, global GDP would have to fall by the same amount as in 2020 every year for ten years. This would lead to absolute ruination and widespread unemployment”. He also points out that the climate is not the only problem and that there are many other dangers to the planet and life on earth; although he does not use the expression ‘biosphere crisis’, he is referring to something very much along those lines.

Rather than negative growth, he calls for the economy to be redirected, with (1) a re-channelling of the aeronautical, automotive, chemicals, plastics and carbon-based energy industries, (2) a reorganisation of the tourism sector towards more environmentally friendly proximity tourism and (3) huge investments in priority sectors: sustainable agriculture and food, health, education, culture, habitat, with changes to the urban landscape, less overcrowding, less congestion and more soft mobility. Attali believes that this transition to an economy of life should be accompanied by a transition from a “derelict democracy”, which has been destroyed by “70 years of ultra-liberal drug”, to a “combat economy”. This should be representative and modest. It should protect life, guarantee social justice and take account of the interests of future generations. A programme to consider over the summer, whilst continuing to take care of ourselves and others.

Olivier Jehin


Jacques Attali. L’économie de la vie – Se préparer à ce qui vient. Fayard. ISBN: 978-2-213-71752-4. 239 pages. €18,00


L’éducation aux droits humains avec les jeunes

With this second edition of its manual for human rights education (the first version dates back to 2002), the education and youth services of the Council of Europe present a rich and highly practical learning tool to all educators, teachers and trainers looking for specific, fun and/or interactive activities to promote human rights to young people.

The range of 60 activities comprises mainly role-plays allowing young people to get directly involved in dealing with a question concerning the fundamental rights, for instance related to the Internet, religion and the duty of memory. Each activity, of variable durations between 60 and 190 minutes, is categorised by level (from 1 to 4) and group size, with a scenario and indications of the required materials and organisation. They are usually followed by a debriefing period, allowing the group leader to work with the participants to analyse the attitudes observed and the result of the activity and, if applicable, to provide young people with additional information. To help with this, the first three chapters offer a raft of information on human rights, the various themes discussed in the activities, international human rights instruments, activism and actions that can be carried out to promote rights.

New subject areas, such as disability and terrorism, have been added in this latest version. Others, such as gender equality, employment and social rights, have been reorganised. It is worth noting that although the French version of the second edition is the most recent one of them published, this manual has been published, with updates, in no fewer than 30 languages over time. The most recent of these were in 2015 for English and Russian and 2016 for Arabic. (OJ.


Patricia Brander, Ellie Keen, Vera Juhasz, Annette Schneider et al. Repères – Manuel pour la prétique de l’éducation aux droits humains avec les jeunes. Council of Europe Publications (http://book.coe.int ). ISBN: 978-92-871-9015-4. 481 pages. €28,00


Les métamorphoses des relations Etat-entreprise

Written before the pandemic, the consequences of which for the functioning of businesses and the evolution of state-business relations, which will no doubt be considerable but are still in gestation, this book analyses the metamorphoses and relations between state and enterprise in the framework of globalisation, the political crisis and the generalised, accelerated technologisation of our societies. It is the work of a collective of researchers, directors of private and public enterprises and senior civil servants, brought together in the framework of seminars organised by the Institut d’études avancées of Nantes. With its 15 contributions, it lays emphasis on an international approach, to stress the diversity and dynamics of state and business institutions as well as their social and cultural representations.

In it, Pierre Musso described the “transfer of hegemony” that took place in the 20th century, gradually reducing the state to a “techno-management, functional device, through the dissipation of its symbolic dimension”, while “enterprise has become politicised by investing its symbolic scope through technology, the new religion of the day”(our translation throughout). Corinne Eyraud contributes a fascinating article on the role of the Chinese Communist Party in businesses that continue to be highly controlled, contrary to the image of the expansion of the private sector fed by Chinese propaganda. Marc Chopplet questions the effects of the development of cosmopolitanism. Karine Patte and Stéphane Rozès suggest a classification of cultural differences. Finally, Jean Peyrevelade talks about the GAFAM, Libra and the climate challenge, before concluding with a discussion of the transition phase we are entering and which will require considerable investments that “protect both businesses and the least-favoured populations”. He argues that “liberalism will be forced into a decline (which will not be without risks) and in order to survive, capitalism will need to be smart enough to get back in line”. (OJ)


Pierre Musso (under the direction of). Les métamorphoses Etat-entreprise. Editions Manucius. ISBN: 978-2-84578-710-3. 235 pages. €20,00


Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on East Mediterranean Gas Prospects

Antonia Dimou analyses the effects of the pandemic on gas exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean, with the suspension of the drilling work scheduled by the Franco-Italian consortium of Total and ENI, plus that of Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum. At the same time, Egypt is pursuing its activities and Turkey its aggressive Mediterranean policy, reflecting the agreement signed with the Libyan national unity government. The author lists Turkey’s many violations of the territorial waters of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus and of Greek airspace, which has been condemned by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and France, and argues that an “EU naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean could be a step towards” defending European interests from “Turkish aggression”.

Such a step appears particularly necessary with America’s support for Turkey, which can only encourage Erdogan to press on with his policy in the Mediterranean, Libya and the Levant. This support has just been reaffirmed by the American Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, in a highly critical attack on the European Operation Irini aiming to enforce the Libya arms embargo, according to Le Figaro. Schenker is reported to have said about the Europeans that the “the only interdictions that they are doing” are of “Turkish military material”. “They could at least, if they were serious, I think, call them out – call out all parties of the conflict when they violate the arms embargo”, he also told a conference hosted on 16 July by the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The article by Antonia Dimou is published in the latest edition of the electronic newsletter of the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs. (OJ)


Antonia Dimou. Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on East Mediterranean Gas Prospects. In Depth, volume 17, no. 4 for July 2020 ISSN: 2421-8111. The bimonthly electronic newsletter of the Cyprus Center for European and International Affairs may be downloaded free of charge from http://cceia.unic.ac.cy


Covid-19 et réchauffement climatique

In the latest edition of Futuribles, devoted to the effects of the pandemic and strategies for the future, the economist Christian de Perthuis looks at the interactions between the public health crisis and climate action. In particular, he stresses that the economic recovery plan, which is now indispensable due to the crisis, could have the effect of pushing the European Commission’s Green Deal into second place, when the two should in fact be merged to make sure that all investments are geared towards the energy transition. “The principal to apply is very simple: access to public funding must be subject to respecting standards (e.g. of CO2 emissions: Ed), particularly in the car industry”, the author explains, adding that all pressure, in all its forms, from airlines wishing to make changes to the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) regulation concerning civil aviation should be resisted (our translation throughout). He also makes the case for expanding carbon pricing to all CO2 emissions from transport and building usage. With the public health crisis, the “clock has slowed down slightly, but the climate emergency remains” and the author expresses concern at the risk of “collective amnesia” once we come out of crisis. (OJ)


Christian de Perthuis. Covid-19 et réchauffement climatique. Revue Futuribles, no. 437, July-August 2020. ISBN: 978-92-84387-450-5. 152 pages. €22,00


Les Rendez-vous européens

The European man already exists, but he has only a limited awareness of himself”, states Simon Blin, a student of M2 European law at the University of Tours, in an article on encouraging Europeans to take ownership of European citizenship. To this end, he proposes the organisation of a series of “European rendezvous” based around culture and sport, to provide a fun way for young people to come together for ten days, in a different European city each time, one in each member state for 27 years. These “European encounters”, which would differ in terms of their content and organisation from what already takes place with the European capitals of culture, will also provide the “opportunity to think about – and rethink – Europe”. His ideas can be read in the Revue de l’Union européenne, which also features a series of articles on the challenges raised by the pandemic, German constitutional case-law in relation to aid and/or recovery plans and how these are paid for, as well as the European Stability Mechanism. (OJ)


Simon Blin. Les Rendez-vous européens. Revue de l’Union européenne, no.639, June 2020. Dalloz. ISBN: 978-2-99035-639-8. 63 pages. €50,03