The Outlook for the European Economy 2014-2019 - Foundation Office United Kingdom and Ireland
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Held just six weeks prior to the European Parliament elections of May 2014, the workshop ‘Europe’s Economy from 2014-2019: Risks and Opportunities for the New Term’ examined the key financial and economic factors at the heart of European policy, and also assessed some wider political debates relating to the management of crisis recovery and greater integration.
The first session was entitled ‘Monetary and Fiscal Policy’ and featured an in-depth discussion of where the Eurozone currently stands, and where it is likely to go. At the centre of this examination was the role of the European Central Bank, the issue of inflation (and indeed deflation), and the reality of variance across the common currency area. A number of topics were subsequently considered, including the variable geometry at work whereby different processes of economic governance (for example) are constructed, with differing scope and impact across the EU and the Eurozone.
The second session followed up on the issue of ‘The Road to Competitiveness’ by considering the divergent interpretations of what created the crisis, what can be done to solve it, and how competitiveness should be best understood. Different aspects of this discussion included the EU in a global context, the role and impact of trade flows, the emphasis on price competitiveness, and different views on the policies that have been pursued so far. This session marked the end of the first day on the afternoon of 8th April. The workshop was followed in the evening by the London Dinner Debate at which CDU Spitzenkandidat for the European elections David McAllister MdL provided a keynote speech entitled ‘Shaping Europe’s Future’.
Picking things up on the second day, with the first panel in the morning of 9th April, focus moved to ‘Banking and Finance’. Here a technical discussion that examined at great length the ongoing process of banking union, its different components, and the desired form that such a structure should take, was undertaken. In addition to the commitments for 2014, such as the Asset Quality Review, and the construction of the Single Supervisory Mechanism, there was an interrogation of the implications of banking union for the City of London, and the wider UK economy.
The final session expanded the focus, by addressing the wider political dynamics at work with regards to ‘A Stronger European Union?’. This began with an outlook towards the upcoming elections that incorporated the trends towards populism, the likely make-up of the European Parliament for the new term, and the ongoing questions relating to institutional and democratic reforms that can work in tandem with increased economic interconnection. An extremely informative overview was provided on the concept of ‘federalism’ and how it has evolved over time in the European debate. Currently off the agenda, there is nonetheless some benefit in assessing the thinking that has driven processes of integration in the past.
The workshop was held at Church House, located in Dean’s Yard behind Westminster Abbey, and was attended by over 30 participants over the two days.