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IOI XMAS LECTURE: It’s Christmas in Euroland

At a special Institute of Ideas Christmas Lecture, lecturers will reflect on the Eurozone crisis, what has brought us to this point and what next year may hold for us.

As 2011 comes to an end, what was unthinkable at its start is now on all our lips: member states could leave and the Euro could fail. The dream of European unity – to consign the prospect of war to the bloody annals of the early twentieth century – is no longer assured.

The fiction that Greece could pay back its debts through austerity is in shreds: Papandreou’s refusal to let his electorate silently follow the Irish into impoverishment and ignominy saw the swift imposition of a ‘national unity government’ at the behest of the EU, ECB and IMF troika. Within days the party was finally over for Berlusconi as Italy’s debts, that of the EU’s fourth-largest population and third-largest Eurozone economy, were declared unsustainable and another unelected technocracy imposed on its citizens.

It has long been known that the EU project was insulated from public accountability in the widest sense of the public: from both national electorates and national business interests. What is much clearer to many now is the degree to which – as a Franco-German project – it operates in their interests and not all of Europe’s. Yet with France’s need to protect an increasingly uncompetitive economy coming into conflict with a German desire to avoid 1920s-style inflation (but not at the cost of its trade surplus), even this project seems doomed. Might France be the next to go?

With Sarkozy and Merkel trying to square these circles, the interests of other countries are an increasing irritation. Europe is becoming a matter of winners and losers again with the language of force and domination (albeit economic) back on the political table. The option routinely trotted out is ‘unite or perish’: with the rise of populist, nationalist parties in Finland, Holland and Hungary seemingly showing the risks of a European future in which the public are allowed to have their say.

At a special Institute of Ideas Christmas Lecture, lecturers will reflect on the above, what has brought us to this point and what next year may hold for us. Are the fears of a coming depression or a populist backlash real or being stoked up to make sure the Eurocrats get their way? Is democracy at a national level really an obstacle to our only salvation: forced Euro-integration? Or is it more freedom and more democracy, demands for referenda, that we should put our faith in, even if it might risk the breakup of the Eurozone? Might it be Europe’s only chance of avoiding a future in which nobody is pro-European?


Phil Mullan: economist; business transformation director, Easynet Global Services; author The Imaginary Time Bomb

Simon Nixon: European editor, Wall Street Journal’s Heard on the Street column; author, The Credit Crunch: how safe is your money?

Mark Seddon: writer and broadcaster; author, Standing for Something: life in the awkward squad


Angus Kennedy: head of external relations, Institute of Ideas; chair, IoI Economy Forum


Mark Seddon | talks
Phil Mullan | talks
Simon Nixon | talks
Angus Kennedy | talks


Date and Time:

15 December 2011 at 7:00 am


2 hours



Friends Meeting House
173 Euston Road

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Organised by:

Institute of Ideas
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