On the 13th December 2017, the EPRC organised a seminar by Professor Kenneth Dyson (Cardiff University) entitled “Dreamers or Cassandras? Intellectuals and the Design of European Monetary Union”. The talk was based on his recently published volume, together with Ivo Maes (National Bank of Belgium).
Using biographical, archival and elite interviews’ related methods, the work carried out by Prof Dyson focused on some of the key policy-makers involved in the development of the European Monetary Union and the Euro. This included economists, central bankers or policy-makers such as: Hans Tietmeyer, Karl Otto Pöhl, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Jacque Delors or Alexandre Lamfalussy. Although most of these had varied views on the development of a single currency, they also shared a common background and a missionary sense regarding the European project. Their politically entrusted mandate was to reflect on how the European Monetary Union could be achieved in practice. Given this and the asymmetric power negotiations between Member States at the time, several theoretical insights were neglected (e.g. optimum currency area theory, imbalances, asymmetric shocks and financial stability). These re-emerged later on, in relation to the Greek government debt crisis and the problems of the Eurozone. Prof Dyson concluded on the political dimension of EMU and the fact that, despite its flaws, it has generated a “revolution in EU affairs” and has strengthened the commitment of heads of state and government to avoid its collapse.
The discussion focused on how views evolved across time among the Euro architects, how some proposals were tabled and insisted upon by different figures, as well as on the issue of institutional and state capacity and conditionalities in the Eurozone.