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IEP Lunch Debate with Dr. Peter Ptassek: “Perspectives of the Economic and Monetary Union”

Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp and Dr. Peter Ptassek

The IEP Lunch Debate on the topic “Perspec­tives of the Economic and Monetary Union” with Dr. Peter Ptassek, Deputy Director of the European Department of the Federal Foreign Office, took place on the 16th of September 2014 at the Repre­sen­tation of the European Commission in Berlin, Germany.  The event was moderated by Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp, director of the Institute for European Politics (IEP).

Dr. Ptassek began his intro­ductory speech by illumi­nating several questions facing Europe, including not only still existing concerns about the monetary union, but also Europe’s relations with Russia in light of the Ukraine Crisis, and the impending refer­endum in the UK. Ptassek pointed out that he believed the height of the economic crisis to be behind us, and the monetary union “disheveled”, but still alive.  He also noted that a several billion Euro rescue fund has been estab­lished for stabi­lizing the monetary union, as well as the creation of a banking union for the same purpose, both of which had been unthinkable in the past.  The success stories of Spain, Ireland, and Portugal in a still difficult economic climate show the usefulness of the afore­men­tioned new stabi­lizing measures. One must ask however, which struc­tural reforms and stabi­lizing measures need to be under­taken for securing the long-term existence of the Euro Zone.

Ptassek further specified that the Monetary Union includes a clear external dimension, specif­i­cally the connection between economic strength and the weight of foreign policy.  Economic growth is crucial for the credi­bility of foreign policy and essential for survival as a strong player in a global context.  The Juncker Commission has been estab­lished under the motto, “Growth, Compet­i­tiveness, and Employment” and the EU’s internal economic well-being and increased compet­i­tiveness is essential for playing an important role in world politics.

Dr. Ptassek also stressed that the threat of increased euro-skepticism is not to be taken lightly.  The number of those expecting nothing from Europe increases, while the resolve of those who support Europe weakens.

Ptassek maintained that ending fiscal consol­i­dation is not an advisable measure.  Although Europe is past the roughest parts of the financial crisis, public debt in the Euro Zone is still too high.  He stressed that regaining fiscal strength is the correct method for full economic recovery and that there are a variety of instru­ments which can promote growth.  Due to the ambitious Europe 2020 strategy, the foundation has been provided and needs to be used.


Trans­lation by Andrew Campbell