Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election in September is good news for Germany and for Europe, but the election results are a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, Merkel garnered a greater percentage of the vote than any candidate since Helmut Kohl’s post-reunification victory in 1990, and she did so as a two-term incumbent weathering a global recession. This was a resounding victory for Merkel personally and a vindication of the economic initiatives that she championed in her first two terms as Chancellor. Few remember that just a decade ago, Germany was the “sick man of Europe,” suffering slower economic growth than its neighbors to the south. Then, at the end of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s term, Germany underwent a series of Reagan-Thatcher-style regulatory reforms (primarily of its labor-market rules) to stabilize unit-labor costs. The results were striking: Within two or three years, Germany had left its sickbed and was on its way to becoming the colossus of Europe. Merkel seized on this momentum when she came to office in 2005 and made Germany the undisputed, if reluctant, leader of Europe.
On September 23, 2013, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of Liechtenstein, convened a private meeting with The Honorable Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education and Cultural Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Minister Frick and the Institute’s corporate members discussed the potential implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for Liechtenstein and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), over which the Principality currently presides.
On September 20, 2013, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria, convened a luncheon discussion with The Honorable Kristian Vigenin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.The meeting focused on the implications of the Syrian crisis for both Europe and Bulgaria. Minister Vigenin called for increased security and technical assistance to handle the steady flow of Syrian refugees to his country as well as for greater solidarity from Bulgaria’s European neighbors in providing humanitarian assistance for the refugees. He also expressed hope that a resolution could be agreed upon during the United Nations General Assembly for an effective dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons capability, and warily welcomed the marked change of tenor from Tehran’s leadership.
On September 18, 2013, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and the Embassy of the Republic of Moldova, convened a special meeting with The Honorable Vydas Gedvilas, Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas); The Honorable Gediminas Kirkilas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and former Prime Minister; The Honorable Petras Auštrevicius, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and former chief negotiator for Lithuania’s accession to the EU; Her Excellency Natalia Gherman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration for the Republic of Moldova; and His Excellency Iulian Groza, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration for the Republic of Moldova on the European Union’s Eastern Partnership and Moldova’s push for democracy. Earlier this year, Moldova and the EU finalized negotiations on an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement. Minister Gherman expressed hope that the upcoming November Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnuis would result in the initializing of these agreements and encouraged the European Union to further Moldova’s push for greater integration. The meeting was moderated by David Kramer, President Freedom House.
On September 12, 2013, The European Institute held a breakfast discussion with Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation, DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission. Newly appointed to her position, Ms. Russo discussed the Horizon 2020 program and emphasized the need for the European Union and the United States to work together on shared research and innovation challenges. The Honorable Bart Gordon, Partner at K&L Gates LLP moderated the discussion.
Ms. Russo's remarks can be found here.
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