François Hollande and Angela Merkel are doing a stark disservice to the European Union. The Franco-German duo, for once in agreement, yesterday decided to bury a strategic debate on the future of Europe. It’s a debate that has been delayed, confuscated or even prohibited.

Before the meeting, the 27 EU countries had committed to adopting a "roadmap" policy before the end of the year. This was to set out the milestones of an “intégration solidaire” (united integration), to use a cryptic utterance dear to French President Holland. What financial solidarity? What common budgetary capacity? What democratic oversight?

It was not about wrapping up every issue, or engaging in an irresponsible headlong rush, but about setting in motion all the institutions of the Union, and, above all, about opening up a major and open debate. For at least two reasons: the survival of the eurozone is at stake, and the 27 member states have not averted the disaster by deciding, at each one of the numerous “last chance” summits, on another move forward regarding financial solidarity amongst themselves.

Market pressure

However, this sideways shift – and this is the second reason – was done under pressure from the markets, without any political vision, and, above all, out of the public view.

Disagreeing about the contours of a new European federalism, the French and the Germans prefer to take the stance of the ostrich.

Angela Merkel is entering an election period and wants to avoid the slightest risk, while François Hollande fears nothing more than reopening old wounds in his majority government. End of story.

But this petty politics is based on risky assumptions – as if the crisis were finally behind us, and that the peoples of Europe would settle for a short-sighted austerity.