Schumann lecture 2013: European Strategies for Globalization since 1980

Prof. Andreas Wirsching, full professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich was the keynote speaker at this year’s Schumann lecture at Maastricht University on 6 May. He gave a talk on European Strategies for Globalization since 1980.

Knowledge is power — Francis Bacon’s well-known aphorism may serve as a starting point for a reflection on Europe’s position in the world today.

After a long period of reconstruction and prosperity after 1945, of which the Western European countries were the main beneficiaries, things have been changing significantly since the late 1970s.

Since then, and especially since the 1990s, Europe has been facing ever increasing international competition that went hand in hand with endemic economic problems such as structural unemployment and the crisis of the welfare state. Considering globalization as a challenge, European governments (and companies) needed to find strategies to keep pace with international economic developments and to reinvigorate Europe’s traditional strengths.

One of the key concepts of these strategies is knowledge. To create “the most competitive, knowledge-based economy in the world” was the aim of the so called Lisbon agenda of 2000.

Even though this goal was not attained in the short run, the concept of a European knowledge society based on research and development, educational progress, technological advancement and liberal markets probably remains the most important socio-political concept of the European Union. It deeply influences the social fabric of European societies in terms of culture and education, working habits and everyday life.

Prof. Andreas Wirsching’s lecture will discuss these tendencies and call for a (self-)reflexive dimension in the European discourse on globalization.

Every year Maastricht University and the City of Maastricht jointly organize this lecture in commemoration of Robert Schuman and the Rome (1957) en Maastricht (1992) Treaties.  Schuman (1886-1963) was French Minister of Foreign Affairs and co-founder of the European Community of Coal and Steel, the antecedent of the modern EU.

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