Dr. Michael Geary’s Euro crisis lecture: an overview
The Institute for European Studies sponsored its first lecture of the semester on Thursday September 19th with speaker Dr. Michael Geary of Maastricht University. Dr. Geary, also a Fellow in European Studies at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, spoke on the topic of Europe’s financial crisis in a lecture entitled “Managing Expectations: The European Union’s Sovereign Debt Crisis and the Future of the Integration Process.” The lecture began with an overview of the development of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and proceeded with an explanation of Europe’s economic crisis, ending with suggestions for its alleviation.
Dr. Geary started with one of the most salient points of his lecture—his belief that the apocalyptic discourse concerning the European Union’s fate is unnecessary and unrealistic. According to him, it is very unlikely that the European Union will dissolve at any point in the future, despite the hardships its members are now enduring. Dr. Geary then moved on to an overview of the development of the EMU and of the EU’s sovereign debt crisis and reminded his audience that it was not just EU states’ financial irresponsibility, but also the United States’ sub-prime market, that kicked-off the recent financial crisis in Europe. Notwithstanding this, he spent much of the lecture addressing the EU’s culpabilities, pointing out, for example, that when the Euro was implemented in 2002, no member state except Ireland had met the Stability and Growth Pact criteria the EU had imposed upon itself. Within this discussion, he spoke of the distrust between member states and of the high levels of white collar tax evasion that is rampant among the EU’s Mediterranean members. All this, along with unsuccessful attempts of reform in the EU’s most debt-ridden countries (Greece being the prime example,) makes up Dr. Geary’s explanation of the current state of affairs in Europe. In his conclusion, he stated that in order to alleviate the financial crisis, Europe must focus on innovation and creativity in order to avoid becoming a backseat player in world affairs. Time will tell if the EU will indeed follow the path advocated by Dr. Geary.