Europe

Be it resolved, the European experiment has failed...

May 25, 2012

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In the sweep of human history, the European Union stands out as one of humankind's most ambitious endeavors. It encompasses half a billion people, twenty-seven member states, twenty-three languages and an economy valued at over $15 trillion. Modern Europe's stunning achievements aside, its sovereign debt crisis has shaken the world's largest political and economic union to its core. Can the federal institutions and shared values of Europeans meet the challenges of debt crisis that are as much political as economic? Or, are Europe's current woes indicative of a series of deep structural faults that will doom the European Union to breakup and failure?

To promote a far-ranging discussion of an issue of global significance, the Munk Debates convenes four influential Europeans to tackle the resolution: Be it resolved the European experiment has failed.

The Results

Pre-Debate

44%

Pro

38%

Con

18%

Undecided

Post-Debate

45%

Pro

55%

Con

CON gains 17%. CON wins

The Debaters

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Pro

"For more than 10 years, it has been the case that Europe has conducted an experiment in the impossible."

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Pro

"For more than 10 years, it has been the case that Europe has conducted an experiment in the impossible."

Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Ferguson is a weekly columnist for Newsweek and a contributing editor for Bloomberg TV. He is the author of numerous bestsellers including The Ascent of Money.  Last year he published Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a Channel 4/PBS documentary series.

Niall Ferguson is a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, was a bestseller in both Britain and the United States. The sequel, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, was published in 2004, and prompted Time magazine to name him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Two years later he published The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, a television adaptationof which was screened by PBS in 2007. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the Worldfollowed in 2008 and was also a PBS series, winning the International Emmy award for Best Documentary. His film company Chimerica Media recently released its first feature-length documentary about Henry Kissinger, whose biography he is currently writing. The film won the New York Film Festival’s prize for Best Documentary.

Controversial, expansive, and eloquent, Ferguson has been called “the most talented British historian of his generation”. But the ambitious themes he explores in his work have urgent relevance to the present as well as the past: the costs and benefits of economic globalization; the interface between finance and politics; the lessons to be learned from the British experience of empire; and the strengths and limitation of American global power.

Niall Ferguson is married to the acclaimed author and feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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Josef Joffe

Josef Joffe

Pro

"Europe has transcended a thousand years of war, but 27 nation-states will never grow into one."

Josef Joffe

Josef Joffe

Pro

Europe has transcended a thousand years of war, but 27 nation-states will never grow into one.

Josef Joffe is publisher-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street JournalNew York TimesWashington PostTIME and Newsweek. In 2007, he was appointed Senior Fellow of Stanford's Institute for International Studies, and has taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Munich. In 2005, he co-founded the foreign policy journal The American Interest in Washington with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Francis Fukuyama.

Joffe’s essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Review of BooksNew York Times Book ReviewTimes Literary SupplementNew York Times Magazine, and New Republic

His second career has been in academia. In 2007, he was appointed Senior Fellow of Stanford’s Institute for International Studies. At Stanford, he is also Courtesy Professor of Political Science and Fellow in International Relations at the Hoover Institution. He has taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Munich.

His most recent book is Ćœberpower: America’s Imperial Temptation (2006, translated into German, French and Chinese). His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, International Security, The American Interest and Foreign Policy,  as well as in professional journals in Germany, Britain and France. He is the author of The Limited Partnership: Europe, the United States and the Burdens of Alliance, The Future of International Politics: The Great Powers; co-author of Eroding Empire: Western Relations With Eastern Europe.

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Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Con

"We need a true democratic process for the renewal of Europe, in which the European Parliament has to play a central role."

Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Daniel Cohn-Bendit

Con

We need a true democratic process for the renewal of Europe, in which the European Parliament has to play a central role.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit first rose to public prominence as a leader of student revolts in France in the 1960s. Half a century later he remains a highly influential voice in Europe serving as the co-president of the Greens/Free European Alliance Group in the European Parliament. He sits on the Parliamentary Committees for Economic and Monetary Affairs and Constitutional Affairs. He is also co-chair of the Spinelli Group, a European parliament group dedicated to the federalist project in Europe.

In 1984 Cohn-Bendit  became a member of the Green party and there was one of the most determined opponents of eco-socialist fundamentalism. In 1999 Cohn-Bendit became the leading candidate of the French Greens (LES VERTS) for the European Parliament. In 2004, he was candidate of the German Greens for the second time, and was leading candidate of the European Green Party which was founded in Rome in February 2004.

He is also a substitute in the Subcommittee on Security and Defence.

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Peter Mandelson

Peter Mandelson

Con

"European leaders are getting there and they need to not lose any further time because the world is very impatient."

Peter Mandelson

Peter Mandelson

Con

European leaders are getting there and they need to not lose any further time because the world is very impatient.

Peter Mandelson is a Member of the House of Lords, and Chairman of Global Counsel, a strategic advisory firm, and Senior Adviser to Lazard.

 Lord Mandelson was elected to Parliament in 1992 and entered British government in 1997, serving as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. In 2004, he became EU Commissioner for Trade, until 2008 when he re-entered the British government serving as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills until 2010.

Mandelson was a key figure in New Labour,  and one of the most controversial political figures of his generation. His autobiography, The Third Man, published in 2010, was a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller for 5 consecutive weeks.

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