For ten years the EU has been facing the consequences of Great Recession (financial-economic crisis), which were especially intensive during 2007-2009. In spite of a multitude of dilemmas, trials, challenges, crises, and various dissatisfactions, the project still survives. Even after all announcements about breakup of the Euro area, that Greece will exit from it, it still exists, with a perspective for enlargement, perhaps to 25 members in relatively short time. Naturally, there is a question of price for the survival of the Euro area and who pays for it. These are some of the topics that the authors of the texts in this collection of papers attempted to answer.
We made efforts to attract eminent Serbian economists to this conference, who have explored certain domains of the EU economy. The goal was to get a clearer picture of economic processes, challenges and problems that the EU faces, but also of mechanisms, or instruments, to solve them. In front of you there is a collection of ten thematically close articles dedicated to the economic problems of the European Union. They are a practical result of the conference “Economic Problems of the EU”, organized by the Institute of European Studies, which took place on 31 May 2017 in the Hall of the Institute, in front of numerous audience, including colleagues, as well as journalists.
Participants were first addressed by Dr. Marina Jovićević, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia in charge of European integration. She said that the history of EU development is marked by crises, but that every crisis was solved by moving to a higher level of integration. She stressed that today’s wave of populism did not seriously jeopardize the EU; instead, a redefinition of the character of European integration is being made, including the concept of multi-speed Europe. Following the welcome address by the Director of the Institute for European Studies, Miša Đurković, and the organizer of the conference (Goran Nikolić), Boris Begović had an introductory presentation within the first panel (The main causes of “secular stagnation” of the EU economy), which was moderated by Miroslav Prokopijević. The title of the Begović’s presentation was: The Rise and Fall of European Economic Growth. Begović pointed to the key EU problem, which is a severe slowdown in economic growth, caused by a slowdown in productivity. Then, Boško Mijatović addressed the participants with the topic: The Euro – A Currency without a State. He treated, according to him, the key problem of the EU today, which is the lack of a fiscal union, which threatens to ruin the monetary union. Miroslav Prokopijević, in his paper What is the Key Economic Problem of the EU, has highlighted the stagnation of Europe, which is the slowest growing region of the world (GDP 1961-2015 grew on average only 2.7% annually, while the growth rate of the EU 2009-2015 was only 0.9%). In addition, he noted that in the course of several decades (from the 1960s to the present), the share of the EU in world production, trade and investment has practically halved. After that, Vladimir Ristanović had a presentation titled Anomalies of the EU Market.
After the discussion, the second panel (Structural analysis and perspectives of economic growth of the EU economy) followed (moderator Goran Nikolić). The first presentation was given by Miroslav Zdravković with the research: The Decline of the Relative Importance of the EU in the Global Economy (production, investment and foreign trade). Using numerous data and graphs, Zdravković has pointed to a decades-long trend of reducing the global importance of the EU regarding overall world production, investments or international trade. Mihail Lobanov (co-authorship with Jelena Zvezdanović Lobanov) presented the paper The Results of Structural Transformation of Industry in CEE and SEE Countries in 1990-2015. The modalities of the structural changes of the former socialist countries, with emphasis on successful models, such as those in the Czech Republic or Poland, were analyzed. Ivan Nikolić presented the survey Comparative Analysis of the Inclusion of Shadow Economy in GDP: the EU and Serbia. The key finding is very important for the creators of domestic economic policy, which is that our GDP is significantly underestimated, probably by a tenth. After that Marko Malović presented his paper The Clinical Picture of the Eurozone Crisis: Are there Grounds for Optimism? Malović pointed to Eurozone monetary problems and its poor prospects if reforms are not undertaken, such as the finalization of a banking union. After Slobodan Zečević, who dealt with the theme of the economic federalism of the EU (from the very beginning of this supranational organization), the last who addressed the conference, on behalf of the Institute for European Studies, was its organizer Goran Nikolić. The topic was The Current Economic Indicators and Growth Prospects of the Eurozone Economy (EU). Nikolic analyzed the economic results in the first half of 2017, which are truly encouraging, but also pointed out that the pre-crisis level was barely overtaken (e.g. GDP is only about 4% higher than a decade ago). Discussion followed after his presentation.
We hope that this special issue of the “The Culture of Polis” journal will have a certain impact on the public, the academic community, but above all on the state administration, which should create our economic policy. This is especially important since the EU is our dominant economic partner (in all key relations, from merchandise and exchange of services, to the inflow of foreign direct investments, loans, remittances and donations), which additionally has a growing influence on the creation of our foreign policy.
Full PDF of the journal’s special edition can be downloaded here (in Serbian):
Економски проблеми ЕУ