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EU 2.0? Towards sustainable integration

Kalypso Nicolaïdis

Shutterstock/Jörg Röse-Oberreich. Some rights reserved.

The Euro is on the brink of collapse and with it, perhaps, the European Union as we know it. We have been running a long standing debate on the future of Europe. There is also the specific issue of the crisis of the Euro. In a challenging speech linking ideas, policy and democracy, George Soros set out three areas of failure. There has been a fundamental failure of understanding: the foundations of orthodox economic theory have proved critically flawed. Second, and related to this, economic policies themselves have been misguided and are feeding a negative feedback loop, squeezing the life from Europe’s economies. Finally, there has also been a political ‘bubble’, an over-ambitious European project threatens democracy across the continent by imposing from above a federal currency on disparate nation states. Whatever your views on his arguments, Soros challenges us to look at the relationships between the governing ideologies, economic policies and political strategies of the European powers and the international institutions — such as the IMF — that reinforce them. It is a sweeping challenge and openDemocracy is opening it out to wider argument.

This debate consisted of 15 articles running from 17th June - 18th August 2012, edited by Oliver Huitson.

A complex conflict constellation : distributional conflict in the euro crisis

Beyond its political and economical ramifications, the euro crisis has had a profound impact on European society. From a distributional conflict perspective, these turbulent times redefine who gets into conflict with whom.

The Euro as the SDR of Europe?

By converting the Euro to a supranational means of settlement underpinned by Euro-National currencies, both devaluation and the Euro's survival may be achieved, albeit at heavy loss to creditors. This would, more than anything, come close to Keynes' vision for the Bancor, and give a localised Bretton Woods for the 21st century.

Euro economies must come before Euro debts

Ultimately, the size of debts accrued in the Eurozone has become too large for any credible rescue plan that does not include substantial write-offs far beyond Greece. The idea that Germany can hold together both the currency and the union whilst still protecting a mountain of sovereign and banking debts seems increasingly fantastical. To avoid decades of stagnation drastic action is needed - the first stage of which should be public audits of sovereign debt.

The post-Lehman financial system is its own source of risk - so why put up with it?

The cost of credit to the financial system is now higher than it is for industrials. The financial system has become a source of autonomous risk. Why do we need it, then?

The Euro is a big success - no kidding

The Euro was the ultimate in supply side economics, designed to perform exactly as it has done in an economic crisis - strip away traditional economic tools of recovery and push states into "internal devaluation", privatisation and attacks on labour rights. It's performing perfectly.

Diversity and uniformity in the Eurozone - making a united Europe work

Underpinning the Euro crisis is a collection of mismatches, of cultures, institutions, expectations and norms between varied European actors and, critically, debtors and creditors. Europe will not survive without unification to smoothe and manage these differences, but it need not be as painful or depowering as many currently argue. There is a positive, optimistic side to greater union. 

The Euro - stepping back from the brink?

The recent summit marks an important turning point in building a genuine economic union in Europe and averting market attacks on weaker members. Closer fiscal union should not be feared, provided the political and, critically, democratic frameworks are developed to underlay this significant advance of the European project.

The Euro or devaluation - how to have both

If the purpose of the Euro is to reduce transaction costs within a common market, this can be maintained while internally devaluing within the nation state. Rather than through crude supply side measures, this can be achieved by the introduction of a National Unit of Account. Here's how.

Soros: economist/philosopher or trading superstar?

A finance insider reads Soros' intervention at Trento and wonders whether this is just a trading superstar talking up his own portfolio? 

Papandreou speaks truth to (European) power

Interview of former Greek Prime Minister George A. Papandreou by Jean-Christophe Nothias, Editor in Chief of The Global Journal. Originally published at  the Global Journal. Cross-posted with thanks.

Save the Euro - who for?

The strongest force holding the Euro together is the political force of creditors. Were the currency to collapse, much of the debt would collapse with it. So the question is, who are we saving the Euro for?

The Eurozone crisis - the slate must be wiped

Both economically and politically the Euro project has been deeply flawed. Enormous debts have been accrued which will never be repaid. The slate must be wiped clean.

End in sight to "Othering the Union". Hope for Europe.

The European debt crisis is political more than financial, as argued by George Soros. But the solution to the political problem needs to confront domestic political elites throughout Europe, jealous of their power, with the dishonesty of their stance. Hold on tight - this process provides hope for genuine democratic transformation throughout the Union

Reflexivity, Soros and three months for the euro

The euro crisis needs a collective solution, designed and implemented by both the core and the periphery. It has to be a political solution underpinned by good economic and financial reasoning. What George Soros is telling us is that the latter is by no means guaranteed.

The Bang! moment is now

To understand the dynamics and timing of the Eurozone crisis, you need to understand how the European Central Bank actually works. The truth is, it is not really a fully fledged central bank at all. National central banks, including Greece's, have been using their power to transform bad bank loans into cash; that cash is now leaving the periphery and forcing a stark choice on Europe

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