Sixth European Studies Conference
"From Enthusiasm to Skepticism: a Changing European Union"
Friday, December 5, 2014
315 Phillips Hall
See the event poster
This conference is co-sponsored by International Programs and the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Opening of the Conference
Coffee and Tea
Michel Laronde, Conference organizer
Downing Thomas, Associate provost and dean of International Programs
Russell Ganim, Director, Division of World Languages, Literatures & Cultures
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Michael Johns (Laurentian University, Ontario)
"Social Cohesion in the European Union: The True Threat of Euro-Skepticism"
Waltraud Maierhofer (German)
Catered lunch on location
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: John Gillingham, (University of Missouri - Saint Louis)
"Is the Past of the European Union a Guide to its Future?"
Martin Lopez-Vega (Spanish & Portuguese)
Alexander (Sascha) Somek (College of Law)
Chair of Political Science, Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada
Dr. Michael Johns is the Chair of Political Science and the Vice Dean of Arts with Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland where he served as the Project Co-ordinator for the Minorities at Risk project (MAR). He now serves on MAR’s international advisory board. Prior to coming to Laurentian he was the Researcher in Residence for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s High Commissioner on National Minorities. His work focuses on issues surrounding minority and migrant rights in the European Union and he has recently published The New Minorities of Europe: Social Cohesion in the European Union with Lexington Press. Dr. Johns currently serves on the Executive of the Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations and recently finished a two year Honourary Research Fellowship with Cardiff University.
Title: Social Cohesion in the European Union: The True Threat of Euro-Skepticism
Abstract: With the European Union still recovering from the Greek economic collapse, the Spanish unemployment crisis and many other financial threats both ongoing and looming on the horizon it would be easy to draw a parallel between the growth of Euro-skepticism and this economic malaise. The EU has always had skeptics who have argued that the member-states have given up too much sovereignty. What offset those concerns was the fact that the EU made the member-states more wealth. With that no longer being the case the anger over what the EU has become is easily understandable. The economic downturn in the EU has also exposed a larger, more dangerous problem for the EU: Social Cohesion. Member-States, particularly from the West, are struggling with issues surrounding immigration from outside of the EU, national minorities and the growing problem of intra-EU migration. The pressure that membership in the European Union places on states exacerbates these tensions and this talk argues that this is where the true danger to the future of the EU lies. Unless the European Union becomes more actively involved in working with the member states on issues of social cohesion the rise in Euro-skepticism will only increase and the long-term stability of the union is threatened. Drawing from the author’s new book the presentation will examine the challenges of social cohesion and provide recommendations as to how to move forward to ease these threats.
Former University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor of History, University of Missouri - Saint Louis
John Gillingham is the author of three books about what is now called the European Union, each of them published by Cambridge UP: Coal, Steel and the Rebirth of Europe, 1945-1955 (1991), European Integration, 1950-2003 (2003), and Design for a New Europe (2006). An early champion of the EU among historical scholars, he has over the past two decades become increasingly skeptical about the organization as well as pessimistic concerning both its future and legacy. Now semi-retired, Gillingham was for many years a University of Missouri Board of Curators Professor. He has been a fellow at Harvard’s Center for European Studies (CES) as well as the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute. His word has been translated into eight languages.
Title: Is the Past of the European Union a Guide to its Future?
Abstract: Far from being a straight upward trajectory pointing to an ever closer union, the history of what now is called the European Union is (EU)one of zigs and zags alternating with prolonged bouts of stagnation. It appears pattern less. The present EU has at the same time morphed from what initially was a customs union with soaring dreams into a rudderless political entity equipped with semi-sovereign administrative powers, the most important of which, however, are exercised by a different but affiliated entity, the European Monetary Union (EMU). For its part, the EMU is steered by the European Central Bank (ECB). The tail wags the dog. But what wags the tail? No one can say for sure, because there is no simple guide to policy-making. The search for explanations requires long wandering through the maze of dysfunctional Euro-institutions. The usual excuse for the muddle is that the EU is moving through uncharted waters. This is only partly true. The shortcomings of the Euro-institutions are obvious. The EU is undemocratic and lacks public support, corrupt and wasteful, unaccountable, extralegal, increasingly archaic, and immobilized. The EU is not sui generis and does not merit treatment as such. In the likely absence of far-reaching reform, it will suffer the fate of other structurally-flawed and similarly over-ambitious international organizations such as the UN and the League of Nations. Like them, it will not die but just fade away, optimally without inflicting much collateral damage.
Michel Laronde: Organizer, Sixth European Studies Conference; co-director, European Studies Group (ESG) with Luis Martin-Estudillo
Department of French and Italian/DWLLC