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Workshop focus: The State of the EU

October 26, 2012

Workshop focus: The State of the EU

October 26, 2012

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning European Union will be the focus of a two-day workshop scheduled Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1 and 2, at Skidmore College.


Featuring internationally known scholars including Skidmore government Professor Roy H. Ginsberg, the workshop will consider the current state of the EU with emphasis on Greece, Germany, and the United States.

Ginsberg, who is the Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration Studies as well as the chair of Skidmore's Department of Government, will serve as moderator for the kick-off event on Thursday, Nov. 1. Titled "The State of the EU: European and American Perspectives," the discussion (free and open to the public) is scheduled at 8 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium of Palamountain Hall. Participants will include the following:

Kevin Featherstone, professor of contemporary Greek studies and European politics at the London School of Economics,

Lily Gardner Feldman, senior fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, Johns Hopkins University,

David Armitage, deputy national intelligence officer for Europe at the National Intelligence Council.

Gardner Feldman

A widely published author and internationally recognized scholar of the EU, Ginsberg says the current state of the EU is "is down but not out." He cites sluggish/negative growth, sovereign debt, banks unwilling/unable to borrow or lend, and lack of political consensus as factors that contribute to the current situation. "It doesn't help that the French and German leaders are at present not preaching from the same pulpit," adds Ginsberg.

Yet Ginsberg is hopeful. "Recent elections in France, Greece, the Netherlands, and elsewhere have brought into power more centrist governments able to work within the EU to solve the Eurozone crisis. By awarding the EU the 2012 Nobel Prize for Peace, the Norwegian Nobel Committee reminded Europeans and the world that, in spite of the travails of the Eurozone, the EU still represents a remarkable achievement in building peace and security through regional cooperation over 60 years."


The Oct. 12 announcement that the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize was a surprise, given concerns over the Eurozone economics. Said Ginsberg, "Many wonder why the Norwegian committee awarded the EU the prize when there is so much economic misery and social unrest in Greece," as the country struggles to meet its debt requirements. He continued, "For others, the Nobel prize comes at no better time: despite the Eurozone crisis, the European Union is a symbol of historic peace and a model to others around the world trying to overcome interstate conflict."

Although Europe does not figure prominently in the U.S. presidential race, the next president will likely continue to press the European NATO countries to reach or maintain defense spending at three percent of GDP and solve the Eurozone debt crisis without U.S. financial assistance while working with the Europeans to maintain the pressure on Iran regarding its nuclear program and on the Syrian governments to step down, Ginsberg believes.

The Skidmore workshop will feature a full day of sessions on Friday, Nov. 2, to consider current issues in the EU.  All events are open to the Skidmore community. Students are especially welcome. The schedule includes the following:

  • 8:45 a.m., Focus on Greece, with Dr. Featherstone, who was recently appointed by the Greek Prime Minister to the advisory committee on government reform.

  • 10:15 a.m., Focus on Germany, with Dr. Feldman, an expert on German foreign policy and author of the 2012 book, German's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity.

  • 11:30 a.m., Response by Joerg Bibow, associate professor of economics at Skidmore and an expert on the Euro.

    The lunchtime speaker is John Occhipinti of Canisius College, an expert on international crime and terrorism.

  • 1: 30 p.m., Focus on the U.S., with Dr. Armitage, an expert on U.S.-European security and political issues and author of A Comparative Analysis of U.S. Policy Toward European Defense Autonomy: Enduring Dilemmas in Transatlantic Relations.

  • 3 p.m. Closing Roundtable with guest panelists and student participants, moderated by Skidmore senior Aaron Shifreen.

Friday's program will take place on the second level of Murray-Aikins Dining Hall and is open to the Skidmore community.



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