Former German Vice-Chancellor, Joschka Fischer, who was a strong advocate of Europe as German foreign minister between 1998 and 2005, provided a German perspective:
“The financial crisis now reflects a political crisis of the eurozone – one that calls into question the very existence of the European project as a whole. The cause of the European crisis is not three decades of neo-liberalism. Nor is it the result of the collapse of a speculation-fueled asset bubble, the violation of the Maastricht criteria, ballooning debt, or greedy banks. As important as all of these factors are, Europe’s problem is not what happened, but what did not happen: the creation of a common European government.”
“If we have learned anything from the current crisis, it is that important issues, such as common policies to ensure economic stability and promote growth, cannot even be framed unless and until the eurozone has a reliable institutional framework, with a sturdy foundation consisting of a real government, effective parliamentary control, and genuine democratic legitimisation. The recent summit in Brussels opened the way to a fiscal union, including both a stability pact and – critically important – a liability pact. In Germany, none of this has yet registered. In the short term, the liability union is to be implemented by the European Central Bank, whose independence will once again be held up as sacred in Berlin, providing a European fig leaf for Germany’s domestic-policy priorities.”
The Irish Times columnist, Paul Gillespie considered the topic from an Irish perspective and David O’Sullivan of the European External Action Service offered a European view.
This lecture is part of the 2011-2012 Henry Grattan Lecture Series which will address the theme of The Debt Crisis: Causes, Consequences, Controls. The aim of the series is to promote informed and non-partisan debate and to offer new ideas to decision-makers and opinion-formers on long-term social, political and economic challenges. Lectures are open to the public and there is no charge to attend. For additional details visit the Policy Institute website: www.tcd.ie/policy-institute
About the Speakers:
– Joschka Fischer, former Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany (1998 – 2005), led the Green Party in their first participation in government. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group and of the Executive Board of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Mr Fischer is a founding partner of Joschka Fischer and Company which advises companies and organisations on the investment climate in international markets, on political and social challenges as well as on opportunities for sustainable growth.
– Paul Gillespie is a columnist and leader writer on international affairs for The Irish Times (from which he retired in 2009 as foreign policy editor), an author and a university lecturer in politics. He specialises in European politics and political identities, British-Irish relations, Middle East affairs and comparative global regionalism. His recent writing includes a paper and articles examining how Ireland has responded to the debt and euro zone crises and the effect of these on its policies towards, and positioning in, the European Union.
– David O’Sullivan is the Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service. The EEAS supports the High Representative/Vice President of the Commission, Cathy Ashton in fulfilling her mandate to ensure the consistency of the Union’s external action. The EEAS also assists the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission in the area of external relations. Mr O’Sullivan has also held positions as Director General for Trade, Secretary General of the European Commission, Head of Cabinet of Commission President Romano Prodi and Director General for Education and Training.