By Federico Santi, editorial assistant at European Affairs

Reactions to the victory of François Hollande, the first socialist to hold the French presidency since 1985, have dominated the news for days as leaders and observers around the world assess the impact that his victory, along with the tumultuous election in Greece, will have on the way Europe will deal with the current economic crisis and the swirling debate on austerity versus stimulus for growth.

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On May 11, The European Institute welcomed The Honorable Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, to a breakfast roundtable on the challenges faced by the United States and European Union in maintaining a competitive edge in today’s global economy.  Vice President Tajani shared his perspective on strengthening cooperation between American and European businesses and outlined key elements necessary to facilitate a “third industrial revolution,” including greater global economic integration and increased access to finance for small and medium enterprises. Fabio Franchina, President of Cosmetics Europe, and a member of the high-ranking European business delegation that accompanied Vice President Tajani on this “Mission for Growth,” also offered his perspectives. The discussion was moderated by Frédéric Badey, Senior Director of International Public Affairs Coordination at Sanofi.

By Zachary Laven and Federico Santi

In response to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe the Fiscal Compact was signed in March by every EU member state except the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The fate of this Compact has been made uncertain by the elections in France and Greece, which are seen as a popular rejection of its terms and effects. Inspired by Germany and other proponents of fiscal discipline in Europe, the pact aims to prevent excessive deficits requiring bailouts like the ones needed by Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Hungary. It requires national budgets to be in balance or in surplus, the EU’s new “golden rule.” The treaty will enter into effect on January 1, 2013, if by then twelve out of the 17 members of the Eurozone will have ratified it.

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Mobile Moans by The Economist. A crucial reform for the eurozone, in its present economic quicksand, requires changing conditions throughout EU nations to facilitate labor mobility and cross-border migration by job-seeking Europeans. The free movement of workers was supposed to be a safety valve to ease economic adjustment in the eurozone once national currency devaluation was eliminated as a policy tool. But it has not functioned well. In theory, job migration throughout the EU is easy, but  there are strong practical disincentives: the absence of pension portability, transaction costs involved in selling a house and buying another, obstacles to transferring professional qualifications.  (April 27)

On April 20, The European Institute welcomed The Honorable Vítor Constâncio, Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB), to a discussion of the current challenges to European monetary policy.  Noting the ECB’s ability to adapt policies to shifting economic conditions as its significant strength, Vice President Constâncio forecast his institution’s continued success in reacting to the debt crisis and encouraged Eurozone member-states to become more proactive. The discussion was moderated by Stephen Gallagher, Managing Director and Head of Research for Société Générale in the Americas.

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