Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing at HEC Paris: Yes, Europe has a future but not at 27

4 April 2013

On April 2nd 2013, HEC Paris was honored to welcome Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former President of the Republic of France, to its campus as part of the European Culture Day. At 87 years old and as eloquent as ever, the President came onto campus to meet HEC students and to discuss the question of Europe and its future around the theme: Has the European Union come to an end?

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invité à HEC Paris - avril 2013

As Economy and Finance Minister (1969-1974), then President of the Republic of France (1974-1981), Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was one of the architects of the single currency by creating with German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt the European Monetary System (EMS). Amazingly committed to the European political and economic integration, he chaired the European convention in 2001 and campaigned for the constitutional Treaty during the French referendum in 2005.

After retracing the origins of the European project throughout history, from founding members such as Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing wanted to explain why Europe still has reasons to be proud. “We know the issues, but it is the European Union’s journey that is important”, he said.  In the light of his lengthy experience, he advocated for a double speed Europe, with a hard core around the member states of the Eurozone for whom it is necessary to be “ more assertive and prominent”, otherwise resulting in a Europe of 27 member states which “will weaken, expand and lose its importance”. In spite of the extensive financial crisis through the European Union since 2008, he claimed that the euro has never been in any danger and will remain a stable and solid currency.

Supporter of a federal Europe, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing advocated for three majors reforms: European harmonisation of fiscal regulations, creation of a European Treasury and the election of European President.

He concluded by addressing the students: “Only care for the Eurozone, “My hope is that one day our GDP exceeds that of China to reach US levels, and I am counting on your generation to do it”.

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