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Regular version of the site

General Search for Knowledge of Self and Society

On November 19-20, 2014, HSE hosted the conference ‘Global Governance: Nominal, Real and Alternative Structures’. The conference focused largely on the paradigm shift in geopolitical and geoeconomic structures of the modern world, as well as the underlying causes and long-term implications of such changes. Professor Alan Cafruny of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, presented a paper at the Conference focused on the crisis of Europe’s economic and monetary union. We talked with Professor Cafruny as he shared his opinion on the union, Germany’s role in NATO, and much more.

About Highlights of the Conference

‘My presentation addressed the origins and implications of the crisis of Europe’s economic and monetary union (EMU). I argued that the crisis is a crucial factor in explaining EU policy towards Russia.   

At the present time the EU is mired in comprehensive political, economic, and social crisis.  Most of the countries of the Eurozone are experiencing crippling austerity in the form of deep cuts in the welfare state, stagnant or declining real wages, and soaring unemployment.   The proponents of EMU asserted that it would bring about greater integration, stability, and economic growth, and that a monetary union would eventually spill over into a political union.  In fact, EMU has generated economic stagnation, disintegration, and nationalism. In the context of the present crisis, the Association Agreement signed between Kiev and Brussels will in my view only serve to exacerbate Ukraine’s economic problems. 

The monetary union was fundamentally incompatible with Europe’s distinctive social model with its emphasis on full employment, redistributive policies, and a strong welfare state.  The establishment of a single currency without a corresponding political and, hence, fiscal union meant that weaker countries would inevitably be compelled to implement austerity policies in order to remain within the monetary union.  Moreover, although France supported EMU as a means of restraining German monetary power, over the long run the EMU has had the opposite effect of enhancing Germany’s ‘geoeconomic power’. The Franco-German partnership — the motor force of integration for half a century — has shattered amid France’s problems with high levels of debt, declining competitiveness, and record unemployment. The authority of Berlin in Eurozone crisis decision-making is unchallenged; however, Germany’s heavy reliance on an export-driven model not only destabilizes the EU but also exposes it more directly to international economic instability.

Austerity is transforming the political and electoral landscape all across the European continent. Nationalist movements and populist ‘mavericks’ are challenging established but declining mass parties of the center-left and center-right; however, these new movements have been unable to mobilize sufficient support for an alternative to EMU.

EMU was also supposed to underwrite greater European independence in international affairs. Germany’s traditionally close cultural and economic ties to Russia have traditionally enabled it to play a moderating role within NATO, yet Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strong support for U.S.-led coercive sanctions against Russia indicate that Germany is facing significant pressure from Washington to adhere to Atlanticism.  The sanctions are very harmful not only to Russia but also to the European economy.  Growing political fragmentation and economic stagnation have greatly increased the EU’s dependence on the United States’.

About Cooperation with the HSE

‘The conference was very successful.  It included a variety of perspectives from scholars and experts in Russia, Western Europe, and North America.  Many of the presentations naturally addressed various aspects of the crisis over Ukraine.  At the same time, the participants also sought to focus on the bigger picture:  there was a general recognition that the Ukraine crisis itself is both the cause and effect of a more general transformation of international relations. 

I first came to HSE during the academic year 2013-4 as a Fulbright Teaching Scholar in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. At the present time I am working on several collaborative projects and publications with former colleagues from HSE.  I look forward to returning to Moscow and to HSE soon.

My commitment to scholarship derives from the more general search for knowledge of self and society.  One of the most important benefits of such scholarship is its global and collaborative nature, more vital than ever at a time of growing international instability and conflict’.

HSE News Service

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