In the maelstrom of debt engulfing the eurozone in 2009, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn was “the right man in that place at that time” – both for Europe and for the Fund’s own stature. That favorable judgment is part of a well-informed, nuanced overall account of his record at the IMF that was given to European Affairs two days before the first report surfaced of the scandal that led to his downfall. The insights and evaluation came from Edwin “Ted” Truman, a highly esteemed international economist. Currently a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, Truman has held many senior positions in the U.S. government and in the IMF.

Under Strauss-Kahn, the IMF transformed itself from being an enforcer of rules on developing countries to becoming a pivotal player in helping rescue European countries and even the euro itself amid a transatlantic financial meltdown. As a sign of its revived prominence, the Fund tripled its resources for lending. Retracing these developments in his question-and-answer session with European Affairs on Friday, May 13, Truman, a prominent “insider-outsider” in the Fund’s evolution, offered an incisive summing-up of what Strauss-Kahn succeeded in changing at the Fund and a partial list of some challenges that remain.

Read More

Official uneasiness about the state of Internet governance is rising as governments on both sides of the Atlantic have come to recognize how limited their ability is to control it. The latest public symptom of this anxiety surfaced in a leaked official letter from European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes who is also the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in which she sought U.S. help in stopping the deployment of a new Internet “suffix” -- ".xxx" –- to identify pornography sites on the web. “This is a major public policy concern,” she wrote, “not only because of the unknown effects it may have in terms of internet stability, but also because of the implications such blocking may have for internet censorship and freedom of expression.”

Read More

(Dec. 3)  Rome - -  Italy's government faces a precarious test in the form of a confidence vote in parliament later this month -- a symptom of worsening  political instability that is serious not only for the Italian economy but also for the economic stability of the EU.  The Italian parliament is in the process of considering a new austerity budget, crucial for the future of the Italian economy.  If the government falls -- and the austerity budget fails or is postponed -- it will be another domino in an already dire series of fiscal crises affecting the eurozone. 

Read More

Signs are that the weeks-long struggle over a new law to raise the retirement age in France is ending on the terms set by the French government and President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Read More

The European External Action Service took another step forward today by naming the people who will occupy the two top posts in the service representing the EU around the world: Pierre Vimont, currently French ambassador to Washington, will be the Executive Secretary General heading policy formulation and David O’Sullivan, a top Irish civil servant who has held key positions at the European Commission, will be the Chief Operating Officer managing the new service.

Read More

Get updates from EI@UMD