No to insecurity. That’s what the banners say and the demonstrators in Paris are demanding. And it’s hard to disagree. Everyone wants a bit of certainty and a bit of confidence, but I’m not sure that opposition to some simple labour market reforms is the way to get it.
It is a simple fact that youth unemployment in the UK, which already has a system along the lines of that proposed in France, is much lower than that across the channel. And it is another fact the biggest obstacle to getting a job is not having a job already.
But having got that liberal free-market prejudice off my chest, why does this subject belong on this blog? Because the real way to fight insecurity in Europe is create a stronger and more effective European Union.
The biggest economic news right now is the rise of China and India: only together can the countries of Europe form any kind of counterweight. The threat to our physical security arising from terrorism and failed states needs a collective response. And if we’re to make any dent in the rise in greenhouse gases to give us some kind of environmental security, we’re going to need a new collective approach.
All of these are tasks for the European Union. These are the reasons why it needs to be stronger. That is why the halt in the constitutional treaty is such a problem. I can’t help but wonder how many of those French demonstrators today voted No in the referendum last year.