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Strategic Challenges Facing the EU – 12th Europaforum 2008

AIES 12th EuropaforumDiscussant at the 12th Europaforum on the Strategic Challenges Facing the EU, which was organized by the Austria Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES) and took place in Vienna on November 21, 2008. The Forum tackled three main issues: (i) the current state of EU affairs and the prospects for European integration, (ii) the (strategic) relationship between the EU and Russia, and (iii) the origins and implications of the current financial and economic crisis.

Concerning the state of affairs of the EU, most speakers agreed that both the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 and the heavy turmoil on the global financial markets have beyond any doubt proven the dependence of Europe from the outside world. As a consequence, the Old Continent cannot afford to become inward looking. On the contrary, only a “Global Europe” will be able to cope with the (negative) forces of globalisation.

In view of the future relationship between the EU and Russia, there was broad agrement that both sides need to overcome historic stereotypes. The Georgian crisis has revealed that the relationship between Moscow and the Union is still very much dominated by a way of thinking rooted in a different era, which ended almost two decades ago with the end of the Cold War.

Concerning the financial and economic crisis, the key speaker Erich W. Streissler, Professor at the University of Vienna, portrayed a very gloomy picture and predicted that the crisis will last four to five years. Professor Steissler argued that Europe’s efforts to cushion the negative affects of the crisis would benefit from a further depreciation of the U.S. dollar. This could be achieved, if large European oil producers such as Russia or Norway would “delink their oil prices from the U.S. dollar by reckoning them in euros or rubles”. A depreciation of the U.S. dollar might – in his words – “attract a large volume of funds from the Chinese, who … hold at least 1,8 trillion U.S. dollars in monetary assets.”

The list of speakers included also Franco Algieri, Director of Studies at the AIES, Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Russia Centre, Ambassador Franz Cede, former Austrian ambassador to Moscow, Ambassador Vladimir A. Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Communities, Janis A. Emmanouilidis, Stavros Costopoulos Research Fellow at the Greek think-tank ELIAMEP, Werner Fasslabend, President of the AIES and former Austrian Defence Minister, Fjodor Lukjanov, Editor-in-Chief of “Russia in Global Affairs”, Manfred Scheich, former Permanent Representative of Austria to the EU and senior adviser at the AIES, Michael Spindelegger, Second President of the Austrian Parliament, and Pawel Swieboda, President of the Polish think-tank demosEUROPA.


12th Europaforum: Strategic Challenges Facing the EU – Programme

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