EU ambassador to discuss EU-U.S. transatlantic trade agreement in IUPUI lecture

The head of the European Union’s delegation to the United States will speak at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this month.

EU Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida will deliver a guest lecture from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in the IUPUI Campus Center theater, on the lower level of the center at 450 University Blvd. The ambassador’s talk will focus on current negotiations for a transatlantic trade agreement between the European Union and the United States.

“The proposed trade agreement would bring together the two biggest economies and trading powers in the world,” said John McCormick, professor in the Department of Political Science at IUPUI. “Combined, the EU and U.S. economies account for almost half of global economic output and about a quarter of global trade.”

Indiana is the EU’s biggest trade partner after Canada, according to McCormick. During Vale de Almeida’s visit to Indiana, the ambassador will also hold meetings at Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office Nov. 22.

Before presenting his credentials as ambassador to President Barack Obama in 2010, Vale de Almeida served as the director general for external relations at the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. In this position, he helped formulate and execute the EU’s foreign policy and played a key role in preparing for the new European External Action Service introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Vale de Almeida has held several positions with the European Commission, which he joined in 1982 after spending seven years as a journalist. He holds a degree in history from the University of Lisbon and has studied and received training in journalism and management in the United States, France, Japan and the United Kingdom.

The ambassador’s talk, sponsored by the Department of Political Science in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, is sponsoring the event, which is free of charge and open to the general public. Parking, fee applicable, is available in the Vermont Street garage, 1004 W. Vermont St., west of the IUPUI Campus Center.

New book by John McCormick makes the case for ‘Why Europe Matters’

The news coming out of Europe in recent years has not been good: high unemployment, recession, austerity, threatened bank collapses, and speculation that the bold experiment of the euro might be on the verge of collapse. But an IUPUI professor of political science argues that the pessimism is misplaced and it is well past time to get the debate back on a productive track.

In his new book, Why Europe Matters: The Case for the European Union (Palgrave Macmillan), John McCormick argues that the European Union is widely misunderstood — on both sides of the Atlantic — and that the debate has for too long been dominated by critics known as euroskeptics.

“Many of their arguments are based on myths and misrepresentations about what the EU does, rather than on a fair and informed assessment,” McCormick said. “They say that the EU is undemocratic, that it is expensive, that it is unresponsive, that it means more — not less — regulation, that it is unpopular, and that it reduces the sovereignty and independence of its state members.”

But while the EU is far from perfect, McCormick said, euroskeptics have exploited confusion and misunderstandings to make its problems seem much worse than they are.

McCormick, professor of political science in the School of Liberal Arts, has been studying and writing about the EU for more than 20 years. A citizen of both the U.S. and the U.K., he was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair in European Union politics from the EU in 2010, and he just spent several months in Europe as Fulbright-Schuman chair at the College of Europe in Belgium.

There has been a rising tide of euroskepticism since the early 1990s, he said, which has moved into high gear since the sovereign debt crisis broke in Greece in 2009.

“The euro suffered from the perfect storm of fallout from the global financial crisis, problems in the design of the euro, a failure by several of its member states to respect the eurozone rules on budget deficits and some foot-dragging by EU governments reluctant to bail out countries that misbehaved,” he said.

The euro crisis zone has created a depressed mood for much of Europe, McCormick said, which has led to several rough years for the EU.

“But people have tended to forget all the good and positive things that have come out of the EU, and more people need to step up and speak up to balance the debate,” he said. “That’s why I wrote the book. I’ve been a longtime supporter of the EU, still believe strongly in what it does, and thought it was time that someone made the case for Europe in the face of all the myths being generated by its critics.”

McCormick why europe matters

John McCormick, Why Europe Matters. The Case for the European Union (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

McCormick argues that the EU has helped bring a lasting peace to Europe (for which it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year); has created new jobs and opportunities; has helped Europeans learn more about what they have in common; and has helped individual member states work together in being a substantial global actor and wield the kind of influence they could not if working alone.

“The EU has a population of more than half a billion,” he said. “It is the wealthiest marketplace in the world, is the biggest trading power in the world, is the biggest source of (and magnet for) foreign direct investment and has shown that it is possible to wield influence without relying on military power.”

McCormick’s book “Why Europe Matters,” argues that the European Union is widely misunderstood on both sides of the Atlantic.

During the time McCormick has been researching and sharing his extensive knowledge of the European Union with IUPUI students, he’s helped bring the Euroculture program to IUPUI, and for 20 years ran a Model EU for students around the Midwest. McCormick has also been a prolific writer, with 13 books to his name.

Included in his publications are textbooks designed to help students understand the complex issues surrounding the European Union. His book Understanding the European Union will soon be coming out in a sixth edition and has been translated into Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Croatian and Macedonian.

Unlike previous books that focused on an academic audience, “Why Europe Matters” was written for a general audience. McCormick wanted a book that was accessible for readers, feeling that the scholarly research on the EU and its academic nature was contributing little to the debates on the topic.

“I didn’t think that another academic tome would contribute as much to the debate as a book that tried to reach a broader audience by making some of the academic research more accessible and relevant to the debate about the EU,” McCormick said. “And even though the book is about Europe, Americans also stand to benefit by learning more about how the EU works and how its approaches and values are distinctive.”

(The above article was written by Josh Flynn and originally appeared in Inside IUPUI)

IUPUI professor pens book making systematic, positive case for the European Union

In “Why Europe Matters: The Case for the European Union,” IUPUI professor John McCormick makes a clear and unequivocal case for how the European Union, in spite of its problems, has made Europe a more peaceful and prosperous place.

McCormick, who teaches political science in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, debunks the prevailing myths surrounding the European Union and puts forward a compelling case for the benefits of European integration. In his new book, McCormick shows how the EU gives Europeans a greater role on the world stage, as well as more peaceful and productive ways of living and doing business.

“’Why Europe Matters’ will inform and enlighten Euro enthusiasts and skeptics alike (and) could not have been more timely for the new debate about Britain’s role in a changing union,” said John Palmer, former European editor of The Guardian and founding political director of the European Policy Centre.

McCormick’s book is “a must-read for citizens, professionals, students and policy-makers alike by one of the most respected authorities on European affairs,” said Alexander Stubb, Finland’s minister for European affairs and foreign trade.

In a stark challenge to skeptics and critics, McCormick “shows that the story of European Union has been, above all, one of progress in mutual understanding between peoples, of the benefits of cooperation and of the pooling of sovereignty between nations, and of a growing solidarity and cohesion in practice that could provide a model too for those looking for a more peaceful and cooperative form of organization on a global scale,” said Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission.

Palgrave Macmillan published “Why Europe Matters” on June 28. For more information, or to request a review copy, commission an article or interview McCormick, contact Louise Crawford at l.crawford@palgrave.com.