Thursday, November 7, 2013

Europe - Political Union or Trade Bloc?

Earlier this week, I attended a "Dialogue Without Borders - A Greek-German Live Debate Between Thessaloniki and Mainz" in Thessaloniki, organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The subject was: "Europe - Political Union or Trade Bloc". On each of these two subjects, there were two speakers from Mainz and two speakers from Thessaloniki. One speaker argued the pro and the other speaker argued the con. The event was carried by a live video connection.

The speakers were university people; the audience on both sides were people with an average age half my own age. It was a rejuvinating experience for me.

As a general comment, I couldn't help but fall back in the earlier management roles in my life and I found myself assessing the speakers. Not necessarily assessing them in terms of specific, intellectual qualifications but, instead, in terms of how much they impressed me. The Greek side won; hands down (the Germans were 'very proper Germans' but they lacked the charisma).

To me, the most convincing case was made by a German who argued that the political union is a pipe dream and that the objective should be to form an optimal trade block. If such an optimal trade block would ever be achieved, a political union might follow automatically and naturally.

The most passionate case for a political union was made by a Greek. He argued that Europe, in contrast to other parts of the world, could look back at a history of values. Essentially all the values of the Judeo-Christian inheritage, and more. If Europe succeeded in forming a vision of how all Europeans could be brought together on the basis of these values, Europe could claim for itself a unique place in the global village called the Earth.

I felt compelled to comment during the discussion period. I addressed the (relatively young) Greek and told him that I admired the force and passion of his presentation. I told him that, back in the late 1960s when I graduated from Gymansium in Austria, I had shared similar passions. And that today I felt that those passions had been misplaced.

Afterwards, over drinks, the young Greek continued to explain to me his passions and I listend to him attentively. At the end of this, I felt that I had become really old and resignated and that it might be an idea to become passionate again.


  1. Hi Klaus

    To the German - "If such an optimal trade block would ever be achieved, a political union might follow automatically and naturally".--- that was the original idea ("endogenous optimal monetary theory) that lead to the present mess

    To the Greek: "forming a vision of how all Europeans could be brought together on all the values of the Judeo-Christian heritage" - There are too Europes (or visions ) in Europe. Europe is enriched by its cultural diversities and improvised whenever it succumbs to one vision

    Some form of political union or council may worth being passionate again, if only for the reason to allow the young people of Europe to argue, in a friendly place, over their versions of Europe. The original EU dream remember was not to fight over them.

  2. Really, Klaus how Germans explain the "optimal trade" and which was the general approach-definition?
    The German perception have a steady basis, to fortify economic relations, as a trade bloc and accept only this approach, or believe that trade bloc is a road to a relatively acceptable- near to optimal -political union?
    How do evaluate also the fact that membership talks with Turkey restarted in relation with onogoing negotiations for TAFTA?
    I m saying that in relation to your article about Poland's perception of Euro-Europe.

    PS: I believe your age is around 30? I am loosing something here?


    1. Your guess is right. Almost 35 years ago, my age was around 30...

    2. I trully perceive you as being in your 30s, not joking, mind is clear and spirit is young.You could be a much better consultant, from most 30 year old executives. And for government economic policies and directions. About my questions? MS

    3. I believe your thoughts for many issues are useful and practical.
      Questions i ve made are "irrelevant" or you don't want to answer because some of my comments were insulting? Straightforward. I ll respect that.


    4. I didn't want to give you the feeling that I ignored your questions but, frankly, I have no answers for them.

  3. After two bloody world wars the success of the pacification in western Europe is obvious. The original plan to begin with economic cooperation was correct because a _tight_ political union will still need a few generations. Free circulation of people and products and the same currency have resulted in the expected rapprochement. Populations happily intermixed and mutually started understanding.

    The political union is not a pipe dream, but it takes much longer, maybe another century...

    And if the Euro crisis is not soon solved in a cooperative style, the whole venture could turn sour with loss of all benefits since WW2.

    H. Trickler