Which is why Wednesday's launch of Open Europe Berlin gGmbH, Open Europe’s new independent partner organisation, was so incredibly timely. 220+ journalists, policy-makers, business leaders, academics, diplomats and others crowded at a packed Hotel de Rome in Berlin, to listen to OEB Director Prof. Dr. Michael Wohlgemuth and the keynote speaker Otmar Issing, former chief economist at the ECB.
The message from the podium no doubt struck a chord: the future of Europe isn't alternativlos – without alternatives to ever more centralisation. In his welcome address, OE Berlin Director, Prof. Dr. Michael Wohlgemuth argued that:
“We stand for a Europe governed by the rule of law and a Europe of citizens, not of bureaucrats… We are Europe-friendly but we place emphasis on measures that made Europe free & prosperous, not central planning… the current crisis measures will lead to institutional sclerosis & harmonised lack of responsibility, a clear case of ‘moral hazard’… Instead we stand for a liberal & competitive Europe; a democratically controllable decentralised arrangement within a clear rules based system.”
|OE Berlin Director Prof. Dr. Wohlgemuth delivering his opening remarks|
In a keynote address entitled “More Europe – what kind of Europe?”, the former ECB Chief Economist Otmar Issing noted that “A think tank contributing fresh thinking on Europe is sorely needed and deserves support.”
|Otmar Issing and event moderator Karen Horn|
In his speech, Issing argued that:
“Placing too much value on a currency, whether it is the D-Mark or the Euro is not a good idea. It cannot be maintained at any cost...I welcome solidarity when it is about helping the weak get back on their feet. However, the fiscal union is a false interpretation of solidarity…The fiscal union is a clear case of wrong incentives. I do not believe that ‘more Europe’, a political union, is an alternative to the present state of affairs.”Instead, he said that failures within the euro were structural and were not caused by ‘financial speculation’, and that member states had to deal with their own problems rather than trying to move them to the European level. Issing also criticised the EU Commission’s “deeply absurd” rush towards establishing a banking union. He added that the proposed ‘Chinese wall’ between supervision and monetary policy at the ECB was “illusionary”.
The full video of the launch event is available here (auf Deutsch).
|The crowd mingles at the Hotel de Rome|
For German media coverage of the launch, see here.
|Open Europe London Director Mats Persson outside OE Berlin office on Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin's Mitte district|