'The European periphery and European integration' which was held in Newman House, St. Stephen's Green, on Tuesday 3 December.

10 December 2013

Niamh Hardiman organized a conference on 'The European periphery and European integration' which was held in Newman House, St. Stephen's Green, on Tuesday 3 December. This was an output of her project on 'The Political Economy of the European Periphery', which is funded by the Irish Research Council, and based in UCD Geary Institute. The conference was very well attended, with an audience made up of people drawn from several universities, public policy officials, policy analysts, public and civil servants. Representatives from the Embassies of Greece, Portugal, and Spain were also present.

George Pagoulatos, Spyros Blavouko, Sebastián Dellepiane Avellaneda, Niamh Hardiman, Philip O'Connell (Director, UCD Geary Institute), Jon Las Heras

The purpose of the conference was to highlight some of the key themes from a book relating to this project, which provides a new insight into the pathways to crisis experienced by Ireland, Greece, Spain, and Portugal. The immediate origins of their experience of crisis lay in the problems they had managing adjustments to external shocks within the context of European Monetary Union. But the argument of the book is that despite the fact the they have very different political systems and very different economic structures, these four countries share a number of things in common. In particular, they share a certain kind of vulnerability to changes in trade conditions, and to changes in the international financial environment. While the ongoing process of European integration has caused them to adjust the way they relate to the rest of Europe, it also exposed them to new dangers that proved very difficult to accommodate within their existing ways of doing things.

The conference featured two overview papers on Europeanization and domestic politics, and on the rediscovery of the concept of the European periphery, presented respectively by Prof. Spyros Blavoukos (Athens University of Economics and Business) and Dr. Niamh Hardiman (UCD SPIRe).

These were followed by analyses of the evolution of the political economy of the four 'crisis' countries, in the context of European integration. Project members Dr. Sebastián Dellepiane (Strathclyde University) and Prof. George Pagoulatos (Athens University of Economics and Business) outlined the principal issues in the political economies of Portugal and Greece. Prof. Seán Ó Riain (National University of Ireland, Maynooth) presented a novel perspective on the challenges of generating sustainable growth and investment in Ireland.

Prof. Sebastián Royo (Suffolk University, Boston) spoke about the lessons to be learned from the experience of crisis in Spain, and many of his observations and prescriptions proved to have a ready relevance to the Irish experience too.

Finally, Dr. Alexandre Afonso (King's College London) rounded off the presentations with an analysis of how and why, and with what degree of success, governments practice the politics of blame avoidance, with conclusions that were unlikely to offer much comfort to any politicians present.

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