On the afternoon of 19 February 2016, the Department of European Political and Administrative Studies of the College of Europe, Bruges campus, held its annual Political Economy Conference entitled "EMU’s critics".
The sovereign debt crisis has been going on for over five years, sparking major reforms in euro area economic governance, including banking union, the six-pack and two-pack, and the fiscal compact. The recently released Five Presidents’ Report outlined areas in which integration should be developed further. Are these ideas politically feasible? Is the euro area on the right path? This conference, hosted by the Department of European Political and Administrative Studies of the College of Europe, examined EMU’s critics, both economic and political, in an attempt to highlight the discourse currently surrounding this most controversial of policy areas. The conference attempted to answer the questions of whether or not these developments are feasible and, furthermore, if the euro is on the right path.
Under the direction of Professor Michele CHANG, this conference kicked off in the Verversdijk campus with students and external participants in attendance.
Professor Dr Dr Jörg MONAR, Rector of the College of Europe, welcomed the participants to the conference and thanked them for travelling to Bruges this year. He preceded Professor CHANG who welcomed the key-note speaker, Her Excellency Mrs Allison ROSE, Ambassador of the UK to Belgium, who gave an inspiring address concerning the importance of not leaving the UK out of a two-speed Europe and the importance of a stable and well-functioning Union.
Panel 1 got underway at 15:00 with three speakers, Professors Amandine CRESPY (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Paul KENNEDY (Bath University) and Cinzia ALCIDI (Centre for European Policy Studies). This panel led an enlivened debate concerning the ‘Rising Scepticism on Politics and Economics,’ and addressed the question of whether or not EMU is on the right path. Following presentations from Professors CRESPY and ALCIDI concerning the structural shortcomings of the Eurozone, Professor KENNEDY addressed the question of rising Euroscepticism citing the case of Spain. After a number of engaging questions from the audience this panel was concluded by chairperson Professor CHANG.
Panel 2, chaired by Professor David HOWARTH (University of Luxembourg), kicked off with four esteemed participants. Professor George PAGOULATOS (Athens University of Economics and Business and the College of Europe) was joined by Professor Philip LEGRAIN (London School of Economics). Their speeches concerning the failings of the Eurozone thus far, and possible improvements which might be made, were complemented by the words of Mrs Marion SALINES who presented the case of the European Central Bank. The European Commission was represented by Mr Marcin ZOGALA (European Commission) who is Deputy Head of the Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning Unit and is one of the leading experts on the implementation of the Report for DG ECFIN. After a balanced panel representing all views concerning the appropriate way forward for EMU, the panel was concluded by Professor HOWARTH after a number of questions from the audience.
Professor Michele CHANG carried out the closing remarks and thanked everyone involved in the planning as well as all participants for travelling to Bruges and taking part.