The European Union has had a great six decades: peace, prosperity, and ever-greater expansion. But after the financial crisis of 2008, can it sustain its “social welfare” model for the decades to come? Can it ensure the continent’s security at a time when the U.S. is retrenching and Russia is flexing its muscles?
What did you take away from the conversation on the EU’s future?
5 Replies to “What’s ahead for the European Union?”
I really enjoyed this conversation about the European Union due to the fact that opened my mind to the basic and in-depth classifications of how the European Union operates. Sabine von Mering opened up the discussion by giving simplified background information about the two guest lecturers: Marc Bentinck and Michalis Psalidopoulos. I favored Mr. Bentinck dialogue over Mr. Psalidopoulos because he spoke more of the vocabulary and terms of identity used within the European Union which put a spotlight on how some people within Europe do not identify themselves as European citizens but rather just citizens of their home country. I can see how this may be an issue within Europe due to how it is an issue within the United States as well. The term “American” has caused great controversy in regards to people from South America and Canada who are technically American as well. Overall, it was a grand conversation that provided great insight.
The EU has been an important player in the past and has the ability to continue to play a significant role. Both Mr. Psalidopoulos and Mr. Bentick stressed the EU’s flexibility as one of its assets. With upcoming parliament elections this is important to keep in mind. Sabine von Mering mentioned Germany’s position, often caught between coming off as too strong or not involved enough with its neighbours, as a potential issue and I believe it’s important for a balance to be created. Similarly, Mr. Psalidopoulos mentioned the need for the EU’s role within different countries’ economies to be flexible. He used the example of Bulgaria, whose “numbers” appeared perfect but there was no development happening; austerity does not work in all economies. Once again flexibility is key. Mr. Bentick discussed both long term and short term issues that the EU faced. EU dependency on Russian gas has become and issue because of Putin’s actions in Crimea, therefore strengthening the desire to turn to other energy sources. Also, strengthening transatlantic relations is important for maintaining the stability of the EU. All in all, I believe the EU must maintain flexible and strengthen its relationships with the U.S., UK and other Eastern European countries. It has been successful so far, proving Euro skeptics wrong, and I believe it can continue to do so.
I must admit that I went into this conversation knowing very little about the mechanisms of the EU. Hence much of Mr. Psalidopoulos and Mr. Bentick’s philosophy was a bit over my head. One thing that I did find very interesting though was the repeated mention of the EU’s morality. This was a theme that Mr. Bentick brought up many times. As time goes on, it is likely that more and more countries (like the Ukraine) will wish to join the EU. If the EU accepts these countries, it is likely that it will be comprised of a continually culturally diverse group. How will the EU define “morality” as their base diverges on a definition? What authority can truly determine what such morality entails? It seems to me that if the EU wishes to survive in the future, they will either have to limit themselves to countries that have parallel value systems, or else accept that their is no universal morality and take on a more culturally relative approach.
It was an inspiring lecture. Three speakers articulate their thoughts about Europe in politics and economics aspects. They let me think about many issues about European Union that I never think before. The most interesting one for me is euros. It is amazing to have a general currency that used by several different countries. However, it is not a simple thing. There are many issues behind euros politically and economically. Because of the same currency, their economic are bonded together. If one of the European countries have some trouble or even financial crisis, other countries will suffer from that. Thus, euros connect Europe’s economy together. Although it is great for countries communicating within Europe, I don’t think it is an efficient way to do that since countries will be greatly affected by others. Their economy is not independent.
I greatly enjoyed this discussion even though I am new to the logistics of EU. For a world that has recently shifted towards liberalism, I believe that the EU had made immense progress. It is just as Daisy mentioned about how the emergence of the Euro has connected the European economy with a simple currency. This allows for smoother trade between countries where exchange rates of the French Frank or the German Deutschmark are no longer a matter. Though benefits of unifying Europe are great, there are still doubts of such an institution existing for the long run. This is the realist opposition that Mr. Psalidopoulos and Mr. Bentinck both addressed. The realist perspective challenges the role of international institutions in the belief that the EU will eventually break apart when countries value their own interests more than others. However, I think that in order to become a prosperous country, one has to think about the long term and the steps needed to take to accomplish those goals. That’s the reason why the EU must maintain flexibility. Especially in Germany’s case, a certain compromise must be found so that their power status isn’t an issue for its neighboring countries. Other issues such as the loss of identity of European citizens are controversies that I found intriguing because it makes one think about how do you make individuals see the bigger picture? As well as are the identities lost worth the gains of economic prosperity? Overall, I think the European Union is taking steps in the right direction by serving as an example for future international institutions and creating stronger bonds between countries.