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The Battalion

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A closer look at critical issues

European+Issues
Photo by Creative Commons
European Issues

European consuls general discussed current critical issues in Europe at the European Union Center’s Europe in 21st Century Seminar Series event on Tuesday.
The discussion was led by Alexis Andres of France, Karen Bell of United Kingdom, Adrian Farrell of Ireland, Thomas Meister of Germany, Elena Sgarbi of Italy and Ioannis Stamatekos of Greece. The seminar, hosted by the European Union Center in the Department of Political Science and the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs was moderated by Guy D. Whitten, director of the European Union Center and was followed by a Q&A.
Meister said the trade and economic relationship between the United States and European Union is more beneficial than is usually depicted in current political debates.
“We are in an ongoing discussion with our friends in the U.S. on the merits of free trade,” Meister said. “Our economies have become closely interwoven and we mutually benefit. On the flip side, [the United States] would severely suffer from any disengagement. In the worst case, a trade war — which we do not want.”
Andres elaborated on the role countries such as France play in the stewardship of the EU in the face of present challenges.
“France has always assumed an onerous responsibility in the European construction,” Andres said. “Of course, because of its geography. Also, because prior to its history, France had participated in some kind of European construction, which was the not the peaceful way we do today, but it’s also part of our legacy.”
On the question of future European unity in light on the eventual Brexit withdrawal, Bell said U.K. and EU relations went beyond any change to the U.K.’s status.
“Although we will have left the EU, we will emphatically not have left Europe,” Bell said. “That sounds like a cliche — it is a bit of a cliche — but what I want to sort of set out now is the way in which we want to continue to work together with our European colleagues, friends and partners. We absolutely want the European Union to continue to succeed. It’s absolutely in our interest that [the] EU continues as a dynamic prosperous secure entity.”
Stamatekos said despite the negative tone of most current EU coverage or questions about Greece’s recent experience, the EU project still remains a massive success for peace and prosperity.
“We have to see things in perspective and we shouldn’t only focus on the negative aspects of our relationship,” Stamatekos said. “We have to also focus on the positive aspects of that relationship. And the positive aspects are many more than the negative, from a Greek pepstive.”

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