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Europe: A Phoenix from the Ashes?

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Erwin-Schrödinger-Saal
Plenary / Lecture
english language

European integration is no longer portrayed as a success story. The divide between creditors and debtors is growing, and euro-sceptic protest parties are on the rise. Is this gloomy picture to persist? Will it still be possible to keep up the European values of democracy and prosperity, to maintain freedom and the European way of life?

Speakers

Vice President, European Forum Alpbach, Vienna; Head and Professor, Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies, Paris-Lodron-University, Salzburg Abstract
European integration is no longer being portrayed as a success story. In particular enthusiasm about the euro as a central project of Europe's unification process has waned; further political deepening is highly controversial; we are experiencing a lack of leadership; negotiations are cumbersome and their results are precarious. The financial and fiscal crisis has led to a fuss made over policies and new institutions within and outside of the framework of EU law, which only increase the complexity and opaqueness of processes within the Union. The promises of democracy and better governance enshrined in the Treaty of Lisbon are being broken and the citizens' confidence in the EU is diminishing. The divide between creditors and debtors is growing, and euro-sceptic protest parties are on the rise on both sides. Is this gloomy picture to persist or even deteriorate? Will it be possible to keep up the European values of democracy and prosperity, to maintain freedom and the European way of life in the face of the experiences we are currently going through? How can the European Union, which is often depicted as a normative power, promote its values on a global scale if it is unable to resolve its internal problems?

The European Forum Alpbach is an ideal setting for discussing the above questions without any prejudices and taboos. We need to be realistic about past failures and future options to reach resolutions. We also need to make up our minds about whether we want to preserve Europe's unity . If unity continues to be our goal, we need to devise appropriate strategies. The question concerning what went wrong and why has to be the starting point for any strategic deliberations. We are aware of some fundamental problems, such as the unsustainable imbalances between the Monetary and the Economic Union, the former being highly centralised, while the latter is largely decentralised; or the pronounced economic asymmetries between different member states which still persist or are even growing after twenty years of constructing the Monetary Union; the detrimental consequences of austerity for growth and employment; the widening income gaps between and within member states; the diminishing influence of the Union in the world and the resulting belief of some member states that they would be better off on their own; and finally, the erosion of democratic standards at EU and national levels in the process of solving the crisis. Tackling all these issues at once is a daunting task. There is a lack of leadership. EU institutions, such as the Commission or the Parliament, are sidelined or even paralysed, while the intergovernmental mode of governance only produces solutions in fits and starts, and even if any solutions are reached, they may then still be challenged by national parliaments, courts and constituencies. Germany is defined as the “reluctant hegemon” (The Economist), the Franco-German tandem has virtually fallen apart, the UK is indulging in eccentricity, and other Northerners seem to stand by in silence, while other member states are struggling to cope with asymmetric shocks. Only the ECB seems to levitate above this conundrum, promising to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.

While the ECB may be in a position to alleviate the aggression of global financial markets, it neither has a mandate to create growth, nor to reduce structural imbalances. Solidarity – a much used term in the Treaty of Lisbon – has to come from the member states. Solidarity is not altruism but derives from a common definition of problems and common efforts to overcome them. Thus, the key questions are whether Europeans perceive the current problems as common to all and finding solutions as a collective task andwhether political elites indulge in catering only to their national electorates or consider themselves as representatives of Europe as a whole. If they decide to take the latter stance, distribution from the haves to the have-nots is mandatory - not as an altruistic gesture, but in the name of preserving unity while accommodating diverging interests. Only if the needs of all the member states can be satisfied by being part of the Union, will it be possible for the European enterprise to succeed. This implies that member states have to comply with the rules they have agreed upon voluntarily. The integrity of the Union as a whole much depends on completing the “incomplete contracts” set up with the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact. These contracts have not been fulfilled yet, as the contracting parties are turning a blind eye to the destabilising impacts the common currency can have in case of asymmetric shocks. A stricter monitoring and more severe punishments, as laid down in the Fiscal Pact, alone will not do it. Strict rules are important, but will not lead to growth and employment, let alone socio-economic convergence. Genuine fiscal federalism, including conditional transfers, constitutes a possible solution, as demonstrated by other integration projects such as the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. It would, however, be required to fulfil existing contracts and to reopen the constitutional debate to make the implementation of fiscal federalism possible. There is no guarantee, but if the EU is to rise from the ashes resulting from the blast caused by the financial crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis, it is worthwhile to try to create new constitutional momentum.

Dr. Sonja PUNTSCHER RIEKMANN

Vice President, European Forum Alpbach, Vienna; Head and Professor, Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies, Paris-Lodron-University, Salzburg

1973-1980 Studium der Germanistik, Romanistik und Philosophie, Universität Wien
1981 Promotion zum Dr.phil. (Dissertation: "Mozart. Ein bürgerlicher Künstler")
1980-1982 Freiberufliche Arbeit als Übersetzerin aus dem Italienischen
1982-1984 Scholarin am Institut für Höhere Studien, Abteilung Politikwissenschaft, Wien
1984 Post-Graduate-Diplom der Politikwissenschaft
1985-1986 Projektarbeit als freiberufliche Politikwissenschaftlerin, Publizistin und Übersetzerin
1986-1987 Generalsekretärin der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Politikwissenschaft
1987-1989 Wissenschaftliche Referentin in der Grünen Parlamentsfraktion für die Bereiche Wissenschafts-, Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik
1989-1990 Programmkoordinatorin der Grünen und Koautorin der Grünen Leitlinien zu Ökologie-, Sozial- und Demokratiepolitik
1989-1992 Mitglied des Bundesvorstandes der Grünen
1990 Projektarbeit am Institut für Konfliktforschung, Wien
1990-2002 Universitätsdozentin, Institut für Politikwissenschaft, Universitäten Wien und Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck
1991 Visitor im Rahmen des International Visitor Program (USIA) der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika
1991-1993 Austrian Research Fellow am European Centre for Coordination and Documentation in Social Sciences (Vienna Centre) mit dem Schwerpunkt "Umweltpolitik in West- und Osteuropa"
1993-1994 Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Europäischen Zentrum für Wohlfahrtspolitik und Sozialforschung
1993-1995 Redakteurin des Journals für Sozialforschung
1994 Abgeordnete zum Nationalrat der Grünen Fraktion
1991-1996 Arbeit an der Habilitationsschrift (Thema "Die Neuordnung Europas. Das Dispositiv der Integration")
1996 Forschungsaufenthalt am Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung in Köln
1997 Habilitierung an der Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Innsbruck zur Dozentin für Politikwissenschaft
1997/1998 Mitglied der Jury zur Evaluierung der Projekte des TSER-Programmes der Europäischen Kommission (IV. Rahmenprogramm, Second Call)
1995-1998 Mitglied der Hörer- und Sehervertretung des Österreichischen Rundfunks
1997-1999 Vorsitzende der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Politikwissenschaft
1998-2002 Lektorin an der Österreichischen Verwaltungsakademie
1998-2002 Stv. Vorsitzende des Universitätsbeirates der Universität Innsbruck
1998-2004 Leiterin der IWE, Forschungsstelle für institutionellen Wandel und europäische Integration der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
1998-2008 Direktorin des EIF, Institut für europäische Integrationsforschung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (zuvor Forschungsstelle für institutionellen Wandel und europäische Integration)
1999-2000 Präsidentin des sozialwissenschaftlichen Panels zur Verleihung des René Descartes Preises der Europäischen Kommission
1999-2000 Mitglied des ORF-Kuratoriums
2000-2001 Gastprofessorin am Institut für Sozialwissenschaften der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Lehrstuhl für die vergleichende Analyse politischer Systeme
seit 2002 Universitätsprofessorin für Politische Theorie unter Berücksichtigung der Europäischen Politik an der Universität Salzburg
2003-2011 Vizerektorin der Universität Salzburg
seit 2011 Leiterin und Professorin, Salzburg Centre of European Union Studies, Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg

Perspectives

show timetable
Kategorie: all BreakoutPlenary

19.08.2013

14:30 - 14:45OpeningPlenary
14:45 - 16:30European Values: Acquis or Cheap Talk?Plenary
17:00 - 18:30The European Union's Future Role in a Global EconomyPlenary
20:00 - 22:00"Foreign" by Miriam FassbenderPlenary

20.08.2013

09:00 - 10:30Europe in the MediaPlenary
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 01a: The European Union - With or Without Me?Breakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 02: Europe after the Crisis - "More Europes" or "More Europe"?Breakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 03a: Higher Vocational Education and Training in Europe: Which Way Forward?Breakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 04a: Is there a Future for the European Welfare State?Breakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 05: What Role for Social Partners in the European Union 2.0 of the Future?Breakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 06: Coordinating Economic Policies within the EUBreakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 07: The Financial Crisis as Litmus-Test: The Union between Austerity and GrowthBreakout
11:00 - 13:00Working Group 08: The Achillees Heel of the European Project: Youth Unemployment in EuropeBreakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 01b: The European Union - With or Without Me?Breakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 03b: Higher Vocational Education and Training in Europe: Which Way Forward?Breakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 04b: Is there a Future for the European Welfare State?Breakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 09: A New Culture for Investment and InnovationBreakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 10: The EU s Role in Global Governance: Working With Strategic PartnersBreakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 11: Changing Values - Focus on IncentivesBreakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 12: Coordinating European Pension Policies - A Bridge so Near?Breakout
14:00 - 16:00Working Group 13: Horizon 2020: The Ambitious Goals of the EU Innovation PolicyBreakout

21.08.2013

09:30 - 13:00The EU's WMD strategy - Lessons Learnt from Outreach Programmes in Export Control
10:00 - 10:30Europe: A Phoenix from the Ashes?Plenary
10:30 - 12:30The Future of Europe: A Grassroots PerspectivePlenary
12:30 - 12:35ClosingPlenary