IEP Lunch Debate with Dr. Peter Ptassek: “Perspectives of the Economic and Monetary Union”

Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp and Dr. Peter Ptassek
Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp and Dr. Peter Ptassek

The IEP Lunch Debate on the topic “Perspectives of the Economic and Monetary Union” with Dr. Peter Ptassek, Deputy Director of the European Department of the Federal Foreign Office, took place on the 16th of September 2014 at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin, Germany.  The event was moderated by Prof. Dr. Mathias Jopp, director of the Institute for European Politics (IEP).

Dr. Ptassek began his introductory speech by illuminating several questions facing Europe, including not only still existing concerns about the monetary union, but also Europe’s relations with Russia in light of the Ukraine Crisis, and the impending referendum in the UK. Ptassek pointed out that he believed the height of the economic crisis to be behind us, and the monetary union “disheveled”, but still alive.  He also noted that a several billion Euro rescue fund has been established for stabilizing the monetary union, as well as the creation of a banking union for the same purpose, both of which had been unthinkable in the past.  The success stories of Spain, Ireland, and Portugal in a still difficult economic climate show the usefulness of the aforementioned new stabilizing measures. One must ask however, which structural reforms and stabilizing measures need to be undertaken for securing the long-term existence of the Euro Zone.

Ptassek further specified that the Monetary Union includes a clear external dimension, specifically the connection between economic strength and the weight of foreign policy.  Economic growth is crucial for the credibility of foreign policy and essential for survival as a strong player in a global context.  The Juncker Commission has been established under the motto, “Growth, Competitiveness, and Employment” and the EU’s internal economic well-being and increased competitiveness is essential for playing an important role in world politics.

Dr. Ptassek also stressed that the threat of increased euro-skepticism is not to be taken lightly.  The number of those expecting nothing from Europe increases, while the resolve of those who support Europe weakens.

Ptassek maintained that ending fiscal consolidation is not an advisable measure.  Although Europe is past the roughest parts of the financial crisis, public debt in the Euro Zone is still too high.  He stressed that regaining fiscal strength is the correct method for full economic recovery and that there are a variety of instruments which can promote growth.  Due to the ambitious Europe 2020 strategy, the foundation has been provided and needs to be used.


Translation by Andrew Campbell