European Economic Crisis Addressed During Emmanuel Panel Discussion
March 28, 2012
Consuls General of France, Greece, Italy and Spain took part in a panel discussion on campus to offer their insight into "The Eurozone and the European Crisis: Growing Pains of a Monetary Union" on March 26th. The event was a collaborative effort by faculty from Emmanuel's Departments of Foreign Languages and Political Science, who viewed it as an opportunity to bring to light the financial crisis in Europe, which has largely been overlooked by Americans and the U.S. media.
"In a globalized world with an extreme overflow of news and an increasingly shortening attention span on the part of the population, the European problems and challenges are left, it seems to me, without proper attention," said Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages José Ignacio Alvarez Fernandez in his opening remarks. "No wonder that many Americans don't really understand what is the problem with Europe, and how these European problems may hit home."
The panel included Consul General of France Christophe Guilhou, Consul General of Greece Ilias Fotopoulos, Consul General of Italy in Boston Giuseppe Pastorelli and Consul General of Spain in Boston Pablo Sanchez-Teran. Each panel member offered his perspective on the financial crisis in the eurozone, which consists of the 17 members of the European Union that adopted the euro as its common currency more than a decade ago. With the eurozone economy continuing to struggle -unemployment rates are as high as 23 percent within individual countries within the union - the panel discussion offered an "interesting and timely dialogue" on campus, according to Associate Professor and Chair of Foreign Languages Arlyn Sanchez-Silva.
Guilhou of France started the discussion by stating that while the eurozone remains in a state of economic downturn, it is slowly overcoming the crisis. He spoke of the landmark agreement signed by 25 of the 27 European Union members in December 2011, aimed toward coordinating budget policies, holding states accountable for their deficits and ultimately strengthening the euro.
I think that's unprecedented," said Guilhou of the fiscal compact. "It shows the commitment of European leaders to overcome the financial crisis of today."
The panelists made a point throughout the event to put the eurozone crisis into perspective for the audience in the Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall. Italy's Pastorelli stated that "Europe is really a work in progress" and reminded the audience that many of the countries were at war with each other only 60 years ago. Greece's Fotopoulous included his student researcher from Harvard University in the discussion, the latter addressing the American perception of the European Union and the eurozone. Fotopoulous himself emphasized the possible geographical impact of the crisis on other nations, notably the U.S., China and Japan, and the importance of the union continuing to operate in harmony.
"Every state faces different problems...but the main thing to keep in mind is that the international system is under pressure," he said. "We have to be very careful how we analyze this crisis.
"I think Europe has many, many things to do," he added. "We have to avoid solidarity between European states."
The event concluded with a question-and-answer session led by Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science Petros Vamvakas, who also serves as the coordinator of global studies and international affairs.