Home       Sitemap      About Us      简体中文
Home» News» News» Global» [Beijing Forum 2013] Stephen Leibfried: The European Union at the Crossroads

[Beijing Forum 2013] Stephen Leibfried: The European Union at the Crossroads

Peking University, Dec.3, 2013: The European Union, as one of the most influential regional integration organizations in the world, is confronted with challenges and choices. Stephen Leibfried, a professor in the University of Bremen, delivered a speech entitled” The European Union at the Crossroads From Europe as Project to an Encompassing and Enduring Institutionalization of Europe-or on to a Disintegrating Europe” on November 2nd.

Professor Leibfried focused on the issue of social security in his speech, ”The EU may now supranationalize more social safety net guidance functions-or it may drift apart under these pressures”, he said. These pressures, in Professor Leibfried’ s eyes, refers to the pressures on national welfare states in the course of the financial and debt crisis which started in 2007.

As for the relationship between the capitalism and social security, he put forward several subjects, such as ”The Indissoluble Wedding of Capitalism to Social Security” in Europe and “Europe :Can it Consummate the Marriage“. Looking back on history, EU- integration emphasizes markets first and the social dimension last, but a two-pronged approach can succeed in the middle run. “Like an ellipse, European integration requires, by definition, two carefully balanced foci: market and social integration, without them, it flies apart.” So social integration should be included in.

When it comes to the conflicts about cooperation and integration in Europe, Professor Leibfried shared his ideas, ”Every country has different pros and cons.” He took German as an example, “German is a part of the productive region that I call the ”European Banana” (stretching from London to Milian via Benelux, including some parts of France, and Germany), but there’s not going to be a free lunch for German, nor for other states. In the cooperation, both sides have to give, no one is just to take and run.”

Furthermore, whether or not to accept new members for EU is under debate these days, for accepting new ones may decrease the efficiency and increase the burden of the organization.”It depends on how you see EU “, in  Professor Leibfried’ s view, if it is considered as a new version of EFTA(European Free Trade Association), a common market constitution rather than a common European political house, then there is probably no limit to the expansion of the EU. But if it is seen as a construct beyond the nation state that unifies the Europe at a political level, then probably the EU has reached the limit of the expansion.

Professor Leibfried ended his speech with a look backwards into the future.”EU is now experiencing the first big crisis of integration .It may rise from that crisis stronger than ever-or it might go under. Those were the alternatives for the US in 1787, and those are also the alternatives for the EU in 2013.”

Reported by: Li Ruiqi

Edited by: Zhang Jiang