Problems and Prospects for the EU after Lisbon

This week we are wrapping up a series of six podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of thirteen events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

Today we bring you an unedited recording of a December 3, 2009 discussion with David Rennie, British journalist and EU correspondent at The Economist and author of the Charlemagne column.  Rennie shared his thoughts on the future of the European Union with Boston University students and discussed his role as a journalist in Brussels. He said that while the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in the EU was supposed to have been a celebrated event, people in Brussells were instead “sunk in gloom.” He then laid out a compelling argument for why he feels the European project is in trouble, listing the trade offs that various actors in the EU must make in order for the EU to function.

The End of the Cold War: The Night the Masks Fell

This week we bring you the fifth in a series of six podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of thirteen events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

On November 17, 2009, Igor Lukes, Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University and an expert on the history of Central Europe in the 20th century, joined William Keylor, former Chairman of the Department of History at Boston University and Director of the International History Institute, to discuss the lead-up to and the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall ten years earlier.  Lukes and Keylor engaged in a dialogue regarding local actors and their role in the events of 1989. Lukes suggested that the West did not necessarily desire change and while the local actors may have wanted change, they did not have power to obtain it.  Instead, he argued, the communist leadership was the agent of change. Although Gorbachev’s reforms contributed to the destruction of communism, Lukes claimed this was not their intended purpose. Keylor responded to Lukes’ points but with a focus on the West’s reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall and on to broach the topic of German reunification.

Germany and the European Union

This week we bring you the fourth in a series of podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of thirteen events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

As we have mentioned, we were only able to record six of these events and the quality of the recordings is not up to our usual standards; however, all of the discussions were extremely interesting, so we have opted to podcast the unedited recordings where available.

On November 2, 2009, Peter Pulzer, Professor Emeritus of Government at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, discussed Germany’s interaction with the European Union and the process of its re-integration with the rest of the West in the years following World War II. After World War II, Germany desired to reassimilate into Europe. Membership in the European community provided Germany with a chance to redeem itself – to “serve out probation” as it were and try to prove its ethical character. Germany even turned down an invitation to NATO to display its new commitment to peace.  After 1989, Pulzer argued, Germany had proven its legitimacy and was no longer on “probation.” He suggested that Germany has since become a key leader and decision-maker.

Constructing the International Economy: Reflections in a Moment of Crisis

This week we bring you the third in a series of six podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of thirteen events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

On October 21, 2009, Mark Blyth, professor of International Political Economy at Brown University, whose luncheon discussion at the Center for International Relations we featured in our most recent podcast, was joined by Rawi Abdelal, the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Today’s podcast is an unedited recording of the discussion, which centered on their forthcoming book: Constructing the International Economy. Blyth introduced the book and described the various chapters and how they fit together. Abdelal discussed the value of constructivism for international political economy and described the four ways that he and Blyth approached constructivism in their book.

Links:

Rawi Abdelal’s faculty page at Harvard Business School

Mark Blyth faculty profile

Constructing the International Economy

What I Learned at the Financial Crisis: A Cautionary Tale of Complex Policy Making

This week we continue a series of six podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

Today’s podcast is an unedited recording of an October 21, 2009 luncheon discussion with Mark Blyth, a professor of International Political Economy at Brown University. In his fast paced talk, Blyth explained the ins and outs of the financial crisis, elucidating what is going on beyond the surface, using imagery to bring to life the current situation. He likened the crisis to past “bubbles,” suggesting that the recent financial crisis was a result of all of these bubbles converging. To illustrate the perceptions and opinions of people in the financial industry, Blyth shared excerpts from interviews with industry leaders. Many of the quotes are shocking, revealing a great sense of confusion in the industry. He concluded by suggesting that even if we manage to weather the current crisis, there is another crisis developing that will be even more difficult to overcome, in particular given how much the US has spent on the current one.

The Politics of Sexual Harrassment: The Ping-Pong Effect in the European Union

In recent months, we have been digging through the Institute for Human Sciences archives for podcast material. This week we shift gears and kick off a new series on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of 13 events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

Unfortunately, we were only able to record six of the events and the quality of the recordings is not up to our usual standards; however, the conversations are quite fascinating, so we’ve opted to podcast the unedited recordings where available, beginning with Kathrin Zippel’s March 4, 2009 lecture and discussion at the Center for International Relations on the politics of sexual harassment in the EU.  Zippel is an associate professor of sociology at Northeastern University and an affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

In her lecture, Zippel noted that while the US has been at the forefront in the discussion of women’s issues and in the fight against sexual harassment, feminists in the EU have begun to make strides. Using Germany as a case study to highlight the EU experience, she compared the two environments, noting the greater awareness of sexual harassment in the US. Europeans, she argued, are more hesitant to confront it as the outcomes are more uncertain. She described what amounts to a “ping-pong effect” resulting from the interaction between the EU and member states as activists lobby the EU for policies that have to be implemented at the national level but which raise issues that go back up to the EU level.

Kathrin Zippel’s homepage

Whose God Is It? Religion in the US and Europe

On September 26,2006 in a discussion entitled “Whose God Is It? Religion in the United States and Europe,” The New Yorker’s European correspondent Jane Kramer debated the growing role of religion, or, in her words, “religious fanaticism,” in politics with Die Zeit staff writer Jan Ross. Taking the much commented upon speech of Pope Benedict XVI as her starting point, she noted how inquiry and dissent have come to be regarded as a kind of treason or “death-deserving apostasy,” not only in the Muslim world but in the US as well. In her discussion of the French veil law, which she said she supported, she argued that tolerance cannot be used to exempt people from a social contract. In her concluding remarks, she raised the question of technology and its effects on the spread of radicalism. While Kramer seemed somewhat wary of religion and its growing influence, Jan Ross questioned the secular ideal in Europe. Religious illiteracy, he argued, brings its own set of problems. He remarked that a strong religious identity is not in and of itself the cause of intolerance and noted that it is not in Catholic Bavaria where Muslims are beaten but in the formerly communist East Germany.

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Transatlantic Relations in the 21st Century

On April 19, 2006, the former German Defense Minister Volker Rühe gave a lecture on the transatlantic relationship. The event was co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut Bostonand the American Council on Germany. Responding to Volker Rühe was Thomas Berger, Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University. Echoing Chris Patten’s all for a renewed partnership between the US and Europe, Volker Rühe, another self- proclaimed Atlanticist, argued that it is impossible to assess the current state of transatlantic relations without taking into account the structural changes that have occurred in recent years. Europe, he said, is no longer divided. Nevertheless, he continued, “we do not need a divided world to be able to work together.” He said that the US despite its military power has never been more vulnerable. “Power in 21st century doesn’t come out of tanks,” he claimed, and in terms of exporting democracy, the “transformative power“ of the EU has been far more effective than the military interventions of the US. Rühe argued that the transatlantic partnership was just as important today as it was during the Cold War, but that it would have to be conceived in new terms based on a new understanding of power.

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The EU-US-China Triangle

The April 4, 2006 visit of Angelos Pangratis, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States, to Boston provided an occasion for the IHS to turn its attention to the impact of China on the transatlantic relationship. From 1998 to 2003, Pangratis was Head of Unit responsible for relations with China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, South Korea and Mongolia. He delivered a lecture entitled The EU-US-China Triangle to which Shelley Hawks, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at Boston University, and Yuan-yuan Shen, Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for the Environment China Project, responded. Pangratis addressed the challenges and risks posed by China’s growth, listing as cause for concern China’s growing inequality, regional disparities, environmental concerns, corruption, human rights abuses, lack of transparency and a fragile banking sector. Where China is concerned, he said, the EU and the US share fundamental values and objectives; both sides need to work together to insure that the rise of China is peaceful and accomplished in a way that contributes to global prosperity. In her comments, Yuan-yuan Shen addressed problems impacting relations between the US and China. She argued that the trade disputes were a normal part of China’s growth process and that with China’s own growing demand for intellectual property protection, it would start to implement laws that protect foreign owners as well. Shelley Hawks focused her remarks on Taiwan and stressed the importance of maintaining the One-China policy while striving for incremental progress.

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Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century

On March 14, 2006, Mark Leonard, Director of Foreign Policy at the Center for European Reform in London, like Chris Patton, a passionate Atlanticist, gave a  provocative lecture based on his book, Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century. Leonard argued that Europe’s problems, demographic and otherwise, as well as the legitimacy crisis posed by the “no” votes on the European Constitution, should not obfuscate the underlying success story represented by the EU and the impact it has had (and could still have) beyond the continent. Leonard argued that American influence has been significantly undermined by the ways America is wielding its military might. By contrast, the EU represents a different model of power, a “transformative power” which is reshaping the world not by force, but through the promise of a better future.

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