EA October 2013

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“The Passage to Europe, How a Continent Became a Union,” by Luuk van Middelaar. Yale University Press, 372 Pages.

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billRobert Hunter, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, is fond of saying, “No one ever made money betting against the European Union or the euro.” Luuk van Middelaar, the Dutch author of the important recently translated book, “The Passage To Europe,” would agree, and in fact, claims that traders who bet on the break-up of the euro in 2012 lost “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Van Middelaar, is a philosopher, who since 2010, has advised and written speeches for Herman van Rompuy, the first, permanent President of the European Council.   The book is a powerful rebuttal to Euro-skeptics, who have been in full throat during the slow motion “Euro-crisis” over the past several years. Unlike many treatments of the EU, this book has not a single graph, chart or timeline, and eschews acronyms and jargon.

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Perspectives: Angela Merkel’s Big Victory in German Elections is Good News; But Results Raise Some Questions About Continuation of Key Initiatives

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bod.grayChancellor 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.

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