The “European Project": A Political-Economic Perspective

Date: 
October 12, 2012 - 11:00 - 12:40
Building: 
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Room: 
Popper
Event type: 
Event audience: 
Presenter(s): 
Streeck, Wolfgang

According to Angela Merkel, “If the Euro fails, Europe fails”. But Europe is much larger than the Euroland, and the European Monetary Union will never cover more than a subset of European states. Moreover, Euroland is probably more heterogeneous than any other currency union past and present. This sets the stage for a permanent haggling between the rich and the poor states (or, in a European “super-state”, between rich and poor regions) over financial compensation and political control: financial compensation to the poor for them being no longer able to devalue their currency, and political control of the rich over the poor in order to make them use transfers for investment rather than consumption, with the purpose of making transfers eventually redundant. A more flexible currency regime for Europe would be highly desirable, not least to maintain peaceful relations between Europeans. But is unlikely to come about, due to an unholy alliance between the German export industries, Southern European state elites, and “financial markets”. The political and financial stakes in this are enormous, and so are the consequences for democratic government at both the national and the European level.

 

About the lecturer

Wolfgang Streeck is Professor of Sociology and Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne. He has written extensively on comparative political economy, economic sociology, the welfare state and industrial relations, and his contributions have profoundly shaped the research agendas in these fields. He is the author of numerous books, book chapters and articles, including most recently his path-breaking “Re-Forming Capitalism: Institutional Change in the German Political Economy” (Oxford University Press 2009), and the co-editor of “The Diversity of Democracy: Corporatism, Social Order and Political Conflict” (with Colin Crouch, Edward Elgar 2006); “Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies” (with Kathleen Thelen, Oxford University Press 2005), among others. His interest has always been the tension between a democratic polity and a capitalist economy, and his most recent work has focused on how this tension plays out in the ongoing global crisis. Wolfgang Streeck has also served as President for the Society for the Advancement of Socioeconomics (SASE), and as Chief Editor of SASE’s journal, Socio-Economic Review.