The economic and financial crisis that marked the end of the last decade forced many European states to increase their debt levels to come to the assistance of the citizens and economic actors who had suffered its effects. Some, like Greece or Ireland – and, to a lesser extent, Spain and Portugal – have paid a heavy price for that crisis, being called to account by the European Union (but also “rescued” by European solidarity). Others, like France, continue to run up public deficits, increasingly flouting the Maastricht criteria which are among the main foundations of economic and monetary union, apparently oblivious of the issues at stake and the very serious consequences that may ensue from perpetuating indebtedness on this scale.
Clearly aware that France is moving on to very treacherous ground here, Jean-François Drevet devotes this column to the question of EU member states’ debt. He reminds us of the disparities between the various states, but also sounds alarm bells, stressing the need to make it clear – particularly to French public opinion – that France cannot very much longer escape budgetary austerity or the sacrifices associated with it.