Research - 07.05.2014 - 00:00 

Roundtable with HSG professors

With the European elections taking place from May 22 to May 25, professors from the HSG came together and talked about the political issues effecting the election, the rise of Euroskeptic parties and fallout from the crisis in the Ukraine.


22. May 2014. The 8th instalment of the European elections are taking place later this month and professors from various institutes gathered together to give their viewpoints on the vote. Participants in the event included:

• Dr. Dirk Lehmkuhl, professor of Political Science with a focus on European Politics

• Simon Evenett, PhD., professor of International Trade and Economic

• Dr. Vincent Kaufmann, professor of Media, Communications and French Culture

• Patrick Emmenegger, PhD., professor of Political Economy and Public Policy

• Guido Cozzi, PhD., professor of Macroeconomics and Political Economy

Professor Kaufmann starting things off by saying that he believes there is something contradictory going on in this election. “Currently the European Parliament is passing legislation on financial matters, on a European banking union, serious technical matters…and this isn’t being perceived by the people and it isn’t part of the current debate.”

Professor Lehmkuhl concurred; pointing out that Europe comes into this election, not with goals and achievements but with the reaction to the reaction to the financial crisis. He stated that as we see a push towards centralization and better coordination of economic affairs… but acknowledges that, “these are not sexy topics to talk about.” He sees member states, “putting the blame back on the Europe Union—whether the blame lies there or not.”

Professor Emmenegger noted that when people are unhappy, they blame globalization, they blame the EU and they wish for, “a return to better times but happily forget that during these times there were armed guards at every border.”

Professor Kaufmann, who brought a cultural perspective to the event, was strong to point out that immigration is an issue in France, but the biggest challenges they are having in this area, do not come from immigrants from the EU but from northern Africa. “A national policy is at the root of the concerns there.”

The Rise of Euroskepticism

Bringing not only his academic background to the table, Professor Cozzi also brought his perspective as an Italian citizen to the table. He was quick to mention that regional governments blame many of their own domestic problems on Europe and he used Italy and former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi as an example. “Berlusconi said that he wanted more Italy, less Europe, less Germany. Like that was the answer to Italy’s challenges.” Cozzi also noted that one interesting benefit of the rise of the Euroskeptic parties is that, “they force people to people think about Europe.”

Professor Emmenegger revealed that one high point of the European Union, is the expansion in eastern Europe. “The advancement in this region is incredible – especially if you compare Poland to the Ukraine.” He believes this is a rallying point that pro EU parties should rally around.

The EU and Ukraine

One dark cloud looming over these elections is the crisis in the Ukraine. Looking at the topic from an economists perspective, Professor Evenett noted that because Russia doesn’t depend on Europe for anything, he believes that trade sanctions won’t make a difference. He said that financial sanctions are potentially nuclear in scale and if they were to be used, we wouldn’t know how they could potentially damage the world economy. He believes we could be looking at an accommodation of Russia. “We might not like it, we may be holding our noses but I can’t see any other solution.”

In talking about the Ukraine crisis and its effect on this election, Professor Emmenegger mentioned that there is no European position…which Professor Cozzi finds paradoxical, “these people in the Ukraine were risking their lives in part to become closer to Europe and we don’t have anything to say, and that is shocking.”

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