Past Event

Spitzenkandidaten series: Yanis Varoufakis

The first event in the The Road to Europe - Brussels Briefing Live: Spitzenkandidaten series. The series features the lead candidates for the European Elections of six parties and is jointly organised by Bruegel and the Financial Times in March and April 2019.

Date: March 26, 2019, 12:30 pm Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

Video & audio recordings


SUMMARY

To kick off the Spitzenkandidaten series hosted jointly by Bruegel and The Financial Times, Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister and the lead candidate of DiEM 25 for European Commission President, discussed his economic programme. For each of the Spitzenkandidaten series events, the candidates field a series of questions in four main “sections”. The sections are (1) Sustainability and Growth, (2) Trade Policy, (3) Eurozone Reform, and (4) Industrial Policy and Competition Policy.

In the first section on Sustainability and Growth, Maria Demertzis, the Deputy Director of Bruegel, asked Varoufakis how he would address lagging productivity growth in the EU. He explained that the EU is indeed falling behind the United States and China in terms of investment and productivity. His central plan to address this issue would be to promote investment. He stated that investment is the key to productivity and to creating a more green economy. He also emphasized the importance of promoting investment in clean energy sectors in order to protect the environment and to decrease European dependence on Russia for energy. In order to achieve this sustainable increase in productivity, he would make a requirement for 5% of annual GDP to be invested in the creation of sustainable jobs. The funding for this investment would come from the EIB (European Investment Bank), which would issue bonds for the specific purpose of funding the endeavor. The EIB would not pick the projects for investment, however, as Varoufakis insisted that such a situation would be anti-democratic. Instead, he would work to create a Green Transitions Works Agency which would choose the projects for investment. Further on the topic of Green Growth, Varoufakis explained that there is a need to heavily tax industries that emit large amounts of CO2 and to redistribute this tax income to poorer Europeans so they can see that Europe is working for them.

In the second section on Trade Policy, Varoufakis was asked what his trade agenda would be. First, he explained that he is adamantly in support of free trade, yet wants to make sure that Europe’s ability to have autonomy in conducting free trade is not usurped by multinational organizations. The tone of his remarks suggested that he does support multilateral trade organizations but simply wants to make sure that there is democracy in the creation of international trade rules. Next, he explained that trade wars are a major concern for Europe, especially in the sense that they can undermine European unity. He expressed that the European response to American tariffs has increased tensions between France and Germany, and he expressed a desire to formulate a coordinated retaliatory plan that would ensure the US learns it can not bully Europe on trade issues. To finish his trade policy analysis, Varoufakis explained his policy on Brexit, stating that he would be pushing for Britain to remain in the FTA and Customs Union for as long as possible. Then, in about five years time, he would hope that the UK would either seek to reenter the EU or pursue a new trade relationship entirely. The most important aspect of his proposal is that it would eliminate the tension over the Irish backstop by keeping the UK in the customs union.

In the third section on Eurozone reform, Varoufakis focused on the need for reform of the rules of the European Commission. His main idea was that the Commission needs to change their rules in a way that allows them to be enforced. When he was the Finance Minister of Greece, he was asked to underwrite loans to banks that were failing so that the EU could provide liquidity. He stated that the commission needs to reform the fiscal contract so that it works for all countries, and he advocated for incentivizing fiscal restraint by providing investment from the EIB (European Investment Bank) for the economies that do comply with recommended fiscal policies.

In the last section of industrial and competition policy, Varoufakis discussed the importance of competition laws. Though there has been much talk of creating European “champions” of industry through government support, Varoufakis explained that this would actually harm EU industrial policy. He explained that Google did not come about because people in silicon valley coordinated to create a giant through anticompetitive measures. Rather, it was the result of a system that allowed for natural competition, innovation, and risk-taking. He states that creating an environment such as this one is the best way for Europe to compete with the US and China in industry and innovation.

In the Q&A section, Varoufakis continued to express the importance of investment in the EU. He also explained the importance of acting realistically and reforming the EU commission’s policy so that it engages with the world in a realistic manner.

Event notes by Davis Cousar


This event is a part of a series of talks and debates with Europe’s Spitzenkandidaten and political leaders. Journalists from the FT, along with a Bruegel Director or a senior scholar, will explore and challenge the main political parties’ policies for the future of the continent in front of an invited audience. The events will be livestreamed on the Bruegel website. For more events see: www.bruegel.org/europe2019

Schedule

Mar 26, 2019

12:30-13:00

Check-in and lunch

13:00-14:15

Conversation

Chair: Martin Sandbu, Economics commentator, Financial Times

Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director

Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Finance Minister and lead candidate for DiEM25

14:15-14:30

Q&A

14:30

End

Speakers

Maria Demertzis

Deputy Director

Martin Sandbu

Economics commentator, Financial Times

Yanis Varoufakis

Former Greek Finance Minister and lead candidate for DiEM25

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Matilda Sevon

matilda.sevon@bruegel.org

Read about event

Upcoming Event

Sep
9
08:30

China-EU investment relations: Exploring competition and industrial policies

This is a closed-door workshop jointly organised by MERICS and Bruegel looking at China-EU investment relations.

Speakers: Alicia García-Herrero and Mikko Huotari Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article More by this author

Opinion

The Coming Clash Between Climate and Trade

The new leaders of the European Union, who have relentlessly championed open markets, will, ironically, likely trigger a conflict between climate preservation and free trade. But this clash is unavoidable, and how Europe and the world manage it will help to determine the fate of globalisation, if not that of the climate.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: August 1, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

La Banca centrale europea

This external publication delves into the new responsibility given to the European Central Bank: supervision on banks in the euro-area. It tells its history and illustrates its functions, structure and responsibilities and the exceptional answers to respond to the "perfect storm" of the crisis.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 31, 2019
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

European champion-ships: industrial champions and competition policy

This blog post investigates the debate on whether European competition rules should foster European industrial champions, or allow national champions to grow to a European scale. It explores the criteria that one would intuitively ascribe to industrial champions, illustrating the difficulties in defining either ‘European’ or ‘Champion’. It then conducts a brief look into whether EU Merger decisions have impeded the formation of ‘European Champions’.

By: Mathew Heim and Catarina Midoes Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 26, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

A reflection on the Mercosur agreement

The EU accepts the deal because it is worried about the catastrophic scenario of a world without the WTO.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 26, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The consequences of Switzerland’s lost equivalence status

Due to a spat between the European Commission and the government of Switzerland over the negotiation of an institutional framework agreement, equity securities that are listed on Swiss exchanges are banned from being traded on stock exchanges in the European Union. This blog post reviews the background of this incident and assesses the consequences for companies listed in Switzerland as well as EU investors investing in Swiss equity securities.

By: Michael Baltensperger Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 25, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Modernising European Competition Policy: A Brief Review of Member States’ Proposals

French, German and Polish governments have jointly proposed options for modernising EU competition policy. The debate to recalibrate European competition rules was already well underway. So, it is not surprising that proposals are consistent with other statements made by France and Germany. Yet, proposals do not address current issues weighing on the international competition community, such as conglomerate effects theory or algorithmic collusion.

By: Mathew Heim Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 24, 2019
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Talking about Europe: Die Zeit and Der Spiegel 1940s-2010s

An on-going research project is seeking to quantify and analyse printed media discourses about Europe over the decades since the end of the Second World War. A first snapshot screened more than 2.8 million articles in Le Monde between 1944 and 2018. In this second instalment we carry out an analogous exercise on a dataset of more the 500 thousand articles from two German weekly magazines: Die Zeit and Der Spiegel. We also report on the on-going work to refine the quantitative methodology.

By: Enrico Bergamini, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Francesco Papadia and Giuseppe Porcaro Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 18, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

How should the relationship between competition policy and industrial policy evolve in the European Union?

Competition policy aims to ensure that market practices and strategies do not reduce consumer welfare. Industrial policy, meanwhile, aims at securing framework conditions that are favourable to industrial competitiveness, and deals with (sector-specific) production rules as well as the direction of public funds and tax measures. But, how should competition policy and industrial policy interact? Is industrial policy contradicting the aims of competition policy by promoting specific industrial interests?

By: Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 15, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

The 4th industrial revolution: opportunities and challenges for Europe and China

What is the current status of EU-China relations concerning innovation, and what might their future look like?

Speakers: Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Chen Dongxiao, Patrick Child, Eric Cornuel, Maria Demertzis, Ding Yuan, Luigi Gambardella, Jiang Jianqing, Frank Kirchner, Pascal Lamy, Li Mingjun, Gwenn Sonck, Gerard Van Schaik, Reinhilde Veugelers, Wang Hongjian, Guntram B. Wolff, Xu Bin, Zhang Hongjun and Zhou Snow Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 12, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Opening speech by Bruno Le Maire

Bruno Le Maire, minister of the economy and finance, delivered the opening speech at Bruegel's event “The Eurozone agreement – a mini revolution?”, 8 July 2019.

By: Bruno Le Maire Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 9, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

The European Union energy transition: key priorities for the next five years

The new members of the European Parliament and European Commission who start their mandates in 2019 should put in place major policy elements to unleash the energy transition. It is becoming economically and technically feasible, with most of the necessary technologies now available and technology costs declining. The cost of the transition would be similar to that of maintaining the existing system, if appropriate policies and regulations are put in place.

By: Simone Tagliapietra, Georg Zachmann, Ottmar Edenhofer, Jean-Michel Glachant, Pedro Linares and Andreas Loeschel Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 9, 2019
Load more posts