University of Washington

WESNorthwest Newsletter, Spring 2014 

EU Ambassador Visits UW to Honor Rick Steves

By Alissa Margett, Undergraduate Assistant

The evening of October 7, 2013, UW students, faculty, and community members gathered in Kane Hall to attend an event in which EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida recognized guidebook author and TV/Radio host Rick Steves for his contributions to transatlantic relations and Europe-US understanding through his guidebooks, popular travel program “Rick Steves’ Europe” on PBS, and tours to most of the EU’s twenty-eight member states. At the event, Steves received the first ever “Outstanding Friend of Europe” Award, given to him by the ambassador on behalf of the European Union.

Vale de Almeida, who has served as the Head of the Delegation of the European Union since 2010, introduced Steves and spoke about Steves’ three decades of dedication to promoting American awareness of, and travel to, Europe. The ambassador, who met with Steves in DC earlier last year, lauded Steves for his comprehensive understanding of Europe, saying that he “really gets what Europe is.” After taking the stage to formally receive his award from the ambassador, Steves explained to the audience that he first became interested in Europe at the age of fourteen when his parents took him on a European vacation. Steves admitted that he was less than enthusiastic at the start of the trip, but by the third day he was “hooked on Europe.” He headed back home and later attended UW as an undergraduate, where he graduated with a BA in history. Steves earned and saved all he could during the academic year to be able to return to Europe during the summer, where he learned how to travel inexpensively. He eventually began his work as a tour guide, before starting his own travel company, which today has grown into a more-than-fifty-person operation based in Edmonds, Washington.

Steves, who previously had opted to stay out of public political discussions, now promotes what he calls 'travel as a political act'. Steves advocates travel and face-to-face contact with people of other nations to inspire creative solutions to the problems facing the US today because “we can’t understand the world without experiencing it.” Travel, he insists, is the first step in achieving that.

Ambassador Vale de Almeida later joined Steves on stage to discuss contemporary Europe and the importance of Europe and America’s long-standing relationship. Both agreed the EU-US partnership is crucial and that the US and Europe have much to learn from each other.

In the question-and-answer segment of the event, UW students and community members had the opportunity to ask the ambassador and Steves questions, which ranged from the matter of Turkey’s accession into the EU, the Eurozone crisis, and the safety of Americans traveling to Greece and Egypt. In a tweet from the ambassador later that same night, Vale de Almeida said that he was impressed by UW’s “beautiful campus [and] very internationally minded students.”.

The event was hosted by the EU Center of Excellence of Seattle and Rick Steves’ Europe through the Back Door.

Turkey and the EU

The EU Center of Excellence of Seattle and the Center for West European Studies are collaborating with the UW Middle East Center to offer an evening roundtable entitled “Turkey and the EU: A Panel Discussion” on Thursday, May 22 in Kane Hall to address Turkey’s evolving role in regional affairs and the implications on its long term quest for European Union membership. Dr. Sibel Bozdogan, Lecturer in Architectural History at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Dr. Kemal Kirişci, TÜSÌAD Senior Fellow and Director, Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project at the Brookings Institution, and Dr. Resat Kasaba, Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, will discuss the making and consequences of Turkey’s foreign policy priorities.

Dr. Kemal Kirişci
TÜSÌAD Senior Fellow
Brookings Institution

Dr. Sibel Bozdogan
Lecturer in Architectural History
Harvard University, Graduate School of Design


Additionally, afternoon lectures on the Seattle campus on May 19 and May 21 will be open to students for credit, taught by the visiting experts.

Washington State Social Studies Retreat

The Center for West European Studies was pleased to once again offer a distinguished lecturer to present at the Washington State Conference on Social Studies retreat, held in Lake Chelan, WA on March 14-16, 2014. Dr. Turan Kayaoglu, Associate Professor of International Relations/Associate Director of Faculty, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma, spoke on “Trying Islam: Muslims before the European Court of Human Rights” during one of the breakout sessions at the conference to K-12 educators. CWES has continuously provided expert speakers to this annual educator retreat, and is pleased to engage with social studies teachers at this content-rich event.

Dr. Turan Kayaoglu
Associate Professor of International Relations; Associate Director of Faculty, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, UW Tacoma 

The Euro Crisis: Causes, Implications, and Consequences

By Alissa Margett, Undergraduate Assistant
On the afternoon of February 24, a group of more than 30 UW students and faculty gathered to hear a presentation on “The Euro Crisis: Causes, Implications, and Consequences” given by distinguished political scientists Tanja A. Börzel (below, right) and Thomas Risse (left). Tanja Börzel is Professor of Political Science and holds the Chair of European Integration at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on questions of institutional changes related to Europeanization, as well as on the diffusion of European ideas and policies within and outside of the EU. Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse is director of the Center for Transnational Relations, Foreign and Security Policy at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin. His research focus includes transnational identities and the social impacts/domestic changes as a result of Europeanization. Together the two head the Research College ‘The Transformative Power of Europe’ funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

In the first half of the lecture, Börzel evaluated the EU’s response to the euro crisis and argued that the EU had not gone far enough in addressing the root causes, disparities in economic competitiveness between northern and southern member states. She argued that if the EU stops at the creation of a banking union without pursuing more meaningful measures to tackle this north-south divide, employment and general economic conditions will not improve. Following Börzel, Risse discussed perceptions of collective European identity and EU legitimacy in the public sphere. Risse reported that, despite the economic woes faced by EU citizens, levels of Euroskepticism have remained relatively stable over the last two years throughout the member states and that most EU citizens attribute high unemployment figures to failures of their national governments, not of the EU. Additionally, polls show that most EU citizens have at least a secondary "European identity" in addition to their national identities, a sure sign of the deep and long-lasting social impact of integration. These findings left Risse, more optimistic than Börzel, as to the EU’s ability to move forward from the crisis.

The event was sponsored by the European Union Center and the UW Department of Political Science.

Lithuanian Ambassador and West Coast Model EU Come to UW

By Christi Anne Hofland, Graduate Assistant

On February 7-8, students from the U.S. and Canada came together on the UW Seattle campus to learn about EU policy-making through simulated negotiations of a European Council meeting. The students were tasked with representing their country or institution in day-long deliberations on the following issues: crafting a banking union for Europe and the reform of the EU’s migration and refugee policy.

Each year, representatives of the 28 European Union member-states, European Central Bank, Commission, and Parliament meet to deliberate the EU’s stance on important policy issues. This year, the European Union Center of Excellence hosted students and faculty representing 15 universities from across seven U.S. states and British Columbia. Attending universities included Scripps College (Claremont Colleges), California; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Oregon State University; University of Idaho; Western Washington University; University of Colorado; University of Arizona; University of Oregon; Lewis-Clark State College; University of Victoria; University of Utah; Portland State University; and Brigham Young University. Unfortunately, due to severe winter weather conditions, the 11 representatives from the Oregon schools were unable to attend and their absence was felt by all.

For this year’s Model EU, we were fortunate to have Lithuanian Ambassador to the US Žygimantas Pavilionis attend Friday night’s dinner and give a keynote speech to open the two-day program. In his address, the ambassador discussed the achievements of the recent Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013 and the impact of EU membership on his country. Ambassador Pavilionis was impressed by the caliber of this year’s Model EU participants, saying that their commitment to the European Union left him hopeful about the future of the EU.

The following morning began early, with two negotiation sessions chaired by representatives of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, currently held by the nation of Greece and represented by students from UW and Brigham Young University. The day concluded with an award ceremony to congratulate those students who most stood out during the day’s session. A committee of the participating universities’ advisors selected the award recipients. This year, due to exceptional quality of work from all participants, the judges decided to give out ten awards instead of the usual eight. The ten award recipients are:

Outstanding Head of Government
Neil Longo
Brigham Young University

Outstanding Head of Government
Kris Best
University of Victoria

Outstanding Minister of Interior
Eliza Campbell
Brigham Young University

Czech Republic
Outstanding Minister of Interior
Thomas Mosher
Claremont Colleges

Honorable Mention
Ani Mesropian
Western Washington University

Head of Government, France
Honorable Mention
Alexander Straka
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Head of Government, Italy
Honorable Mention
Zuzana Vuova
Claremont Colleges

Head of Government, Sweden
Honorable Mention
Dustin Ellis
Lewis-Clark State College

Head of Government, United Kingdom
Honorable Mention
Michael Christian Voyles
Brigham Young University

Minister of Interior, Finland
Honorable Mention
Savannah Eccles
Brigham Young University

Minister of Interior, Greece

 The 2014 West Coast Model EU was sponsored by the European Union Center of Excellence, the Center for West European Studies and the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington.

New Staff Members

Our center would like to welcome the two newest members of our staff, student assistants Alissa Margett and Christi Anne Hofland.

Alissa Margett is our new Undergraduate Assistant. She is working to complete her Bachelor of the Arts in both Spanish and European Studies, and the Certificate in EU Studies, while finishing her senior year at UW. She has a background in Danish, Spanish, and modern European history, and is particularly interested in EU foreign policy, integration, and questions of European identity. This past year, Alissa spent a semester studying at the University of Cadiz in Andalusia, Spain and recently completed a 7-week trip throughout Denmark and Iceland. In addition to working at the EU Center, Alissa currently serves as a program assistant for the International Visitor Program at the World Affairs Council of Seattle. Upon graduation, she plans to continue to work at the World Affairs Council or another internationally-minded NGO before applying to graduate school to study transatlantic relations. She hopes to one day work for the US State Department. Alissa is pleased to bring her research, writing and event-coordinating experience, and her enthusiasm for European Studies to the center as she further develops her knowledge of the EU.

Christi Anne Hofland is our new Graduate Assistant. She is pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a Certificate in International Development at the Evans School of Public Affairs. She is also a 2015 Master’s Candidate at the Jackson School of International Studies for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies (REECAS). As an undergraduate at Gonzaga University, she spent a year studying abroad in Florence, Italy. However, following graduation, her interests turned further east. Prior to graduate school, Christi Anne spent three years living in Ukraine, first on a Fulbright Fellowship for art pedagogy at the Odessa Children’s Rehabilitation Center and then as a language instructor at the Center for Modern Foreign Languages at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Her research now focuses on post-Soviet social movements and eastern expansion of the European Union. She is thrilled to be developing her expertise on the EU through her role as Graduate Assistant.


Germany in Europe
Op-Eds by UW Students on the 2013 German Federal Elections
By Sabine Lang, Jackson School Professor

The recent federal elections in Germany were observed closely around the world. Would Germans give Chancellor Angela Merkel another four years at the helm of Europe’s most powerful polity and economy? Would they endorse her policies of austerity towards economically weaker EU member states? The results were clear: Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won a resounding electoral victory, barely missing an absolute majority in the German Bundestag. Her conservative, ‘no experiments’ approach resonating with the voters, Merkel helped the CDU secure the biggest win of any German party since the 1950s.

What are the implications of this landslide electoral endorsement for Europeans and European integration? This was the subject that students in my lecture class on ‘Europe Today’ attempted to answer in an Op-Ed essay contest on ‘Germany in Europe’. The German Embassy to the United States sponsored the contest as part of its “Germany in Europe – Campus Weeks 2013/14,” awarding cash prizes to the three best essays. The first prize went to Lauren T. Moses (International Studies); the second prize went to Jacob Isenberg (Environmental Science and Research Management); the third prize went to Philip C. Arbaugh (International Studies). Below are the winning essays:

Germany: Europe’s Latest Obsession

by Lauren T. Moses

Angela Merkel, the recently re-elected chancellor of Germany, holds the future of Europe in her cold, visionless, austerity-enforcing hands… at least that is how a large part of the international community is portraying her. The media, overanalyzing and critiquing her every movement, refers to her as either a savior or a dictator, magnifying the significance of the results of the German election. The phrases “economic power” and “political stability” are uttered often, almost carelessly, during discussions of Germany’s new centrality, entrusting in Merkel both the influence and the responsibility to direct Europe’s economic and political fate. This European obsession with Germany is a direct result of a transfer of other European countries’ national responsibilities to Merkel, forcing her to either take the credit, or the fall, for Europe. However uncomfortable this concentration of uncontested German power may make Europe feel, it allows the other nations to be free from the burden of making tough policy choices, instead only having to react to Merkel’s decisions.

Although Europe has forcefully bestowed this responsibility on Germany by way of economic and political mismanagement, it critiques everything Merkel does. Member states of the Eurozone need to stop pointing fingers at the only country left unscathed by the crisis, take responsibility for their faux pas and for Europe’s future. The harsh critiques from other countries could just be attempts to redirect the people’s concerns and worries to Germany, and not to their own nation and leaders. Of course Germany is going to affect the future of Europe; the question on everyone’s minds is whether the end result is going to be good or bad. But the more interesting question is how Germany, a country that has historically had political and economic restraints placed on it, has become the new ring leader of Europe.

Europe should recognize that Merkel’s re-election will impact the recovery process, but instead of scrutinizing her every move, Europe should focus on developing policies to recover and to prevent future crises. And if that’s too much to ask, Europe should at a minimum respect Germany’s leadership in a time when countries are looking inward. Germany may be the “bad cop” in Europe right now, but I’d rather have one cop than none at all.

Business as Usual:
The Implications of the German Election for Europe and the EU

Jacob Isenberg

“If you want to predict how someone will act in the future, just look at what they have done in the past.” Congressman Jim McDermott imparted this advice when I worked as an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives. Politically speaking, this mantra can be applied beyond Washington D.C. as a guide to forecasting how any public figure will vote and what policies they will endorse. As Angela Merkel ascends to an historic third chancellorship, questions arise regarding the implications that these election results have for Europe as a whole. Reflecting on the congressman’s advice, it can be anticipated that, in terms of Germany’s leadership, Europe should expect more of the same.

Angela Merkel’s tenure has been marked by pragmatism with a slow, deliberative, and centrist approach to policy-making. Her decisions are a product of careful calculations and seldom result in any major surprises. This consistent style of governance on top of the glaring absence of European affairs from her campaign both suggest that Merkel’s foreign policy and EU platforms will remain relatively unchanged. The vast margin of victory achieved by Merkel’s CDU party (its greatest since German reunification) would make any dramatic change politically hazardous. One should expect the same commitment to austerity with regards to the Eurozone financial crisis, the same emphasis on maintaining the stability of the EU, and the same negative outlook on EU expansion to candidate countries such as Turkey. This amounts to foreign policy cruise control as Germany switches its focus inward to tackle various domestic issues that were put on hold due to the Eurozone crisis.

Chancellor Merkel’s personality and the current political reality within Germany make it a near certainty that we will see minimal change to the present foreign policy being pursued. As a scientist by profession, Merkel knows that it would make little sense to change the experiment when you have repeatedly achieved the desired outcome. The question should not be what implications this election has on Europe, but rather how Europe will respond to four more years of status quo.

Captain Merkel – A Leader by Necessity

Philip Arbaugh

Angela Merkel is captain of an unstable vessel called The Eurozone and not everybody is happy about her leadership. Her recent election suggests that powerful Germany, with its growing economy, balanced budget, and low unemployment, will continue to be the unwanted European leader. Trepidation about her captain’s skills is stalling the EU’s ability to respond to the crisis. Other EU members’ dislike of austerity policies combined with historically engrained fears of a German hegemon drives this criticism. Yet it is Merkel’s insistence on staying the course that has stabilized the Eurozone. Those critical of Merkel’s policies need to recognize that her election wins will be good for all Europeans in the long run. Her re-election means that there will be continued German support for the EU. Merkel has demonstrated support for a stable Euro and thus a strong EU. She stated in a 2012 BBC interview that “it would be a huge political mistake to allow Greece to leave [the Eurozone].” She’s right. Austerity or not, weathering crises as a unified continent will increase integration over the long term; a positive trend that will with time improve the standard of living across Europe. EU members are allowing fears of German dominance to cloud effective leadership, but the problems that the EU is confronting now require strong and confident economic management. EU members should lay off criticisms of Merkel and be grateful that they have a captain at all.

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