Professor Harold James

ADEMU lecture: The Euro and the Battle of Ideas

ADEMU lecture: The Euro and the Battle of Ideas • European University Institute

On Tuesday 22 November, the ADEMU Project hosted a lecture on ‘The Euro and the battle of ideas’, delivered by Professor Harold James of Princeton University, New Jersey, USA. The event was held at the European University Institute’s Conference Room on Villa la Fonte, Florence, Italy.

Professor James asked why Europe’s great monetary endeavor, the Euro, is in trouble and discussed how a string of economic difficulties in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and other Eurozone nations has left observers wondering whether the currency union can survive.

Does the core problem with the Euro lie in the philosophical differences between the founding countries of the Eurozone, particularly Germany and France? And can these seemingly incompatible differences can be reconciled to ensure Europe’s survival?

Germany, a federal state with strong regional governments, saw the Maastricht Treaty, the framework for the Euro, as a set of rules. France, on the other hand, with a more centralized system of government, saw the framework as flexible, to be overseen by governments. This lecture will address how the troubles faced by the Euro have led its member states to focus on national, as opposed to collective, responses, a reaction explained by the resurgence of the battle of economic ideas: rules vs. discretion, liability vs. solidarity, solvency vs. liquidity, austerity vs. stimulus.

Weaving together economic analysis and historical reflection, The Euro and the Battle of Ideas provides a forensic investigation and a road map for Europe’s future.