Professor Paul J.J. Welfens, a professor of Economic Integration at the University of Wuppertal in Germany, visited Georgetown to give a talk on his new book, An Accidental Brexit, in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. The BMW Center for German and European Studies hosted the talk on Sept. 12, which discussed the economic and political implications of the United Kingdom’s June 2016 decision to withdraw from the European Union.
Welfens said that Europe could face many challenges because of Brexit, including inflation, foreign relations, and the rise of populism.. He also believes that the British economy would suffer as a result of Brexit. “The British economy is flexible but it’s nonsense to think that Brexit can come at no cost,” he said.
Professor Jeffrey Anderson, director of BMW Center for German and European Studies, said he was glad to have Professor Welfens discuss the topic. “Brexit is obviously on everyone’s mind and there are no shortage of things to worry about when it comes to Europe and the transatlantic relationship and Brexit is certainly right up at the top of the list,” Anderson said.
Anderson also praised Welfens’ talk as both interesting and accessible. “He ended up focusing on a mix-up of economic implications as well as the politics going in, the interesting political conundrum that the Brits seem to have created for themselves, so overall I thought it was a very nice accessible introduction to the topic,” Anderson said. He also complimented Welfens’s ability to participate in both policy and academia, similar to many professors in the School of Foreign Service.
Tessa Coggio, a graduate student,attended the event and echoed Anderson’s assessment. “I’m very excited that the program even offers something like this, bringing in experts from overseas, from Europe to talk about the most current European-related events. personally, I thought it was interesting hearing from an economist since that’s not necessarily my background but it offered a lot of insight on what one of the biggest issues is concerning Brexit, which is money,” Coggio said.
This talk was the first of the BMW Center‘s lecture series for the year, which will explore contemporary European politics. Each year, the center hosts about forty to fifty events discussing relevant topics in Europe, taking advantage of Georgetown’s location in Washington, D.C. “Many of our events at the BMW center, we often get requests from scholars or practitioners who are visiting Washington to visit Georgetown. Georgetown is a very attractive destination for both types of speakers and we’re always happy to accommodate,” Anderson said.
Each year, the BMW Center has a theme for their lecture series, with this year’s being ‘Transnational Perspectives on Democratic Erosion, Past Present and Future.’ Anderson hopes that this theme should cover many contemporary political issues. “We’re hoping to look at the phenomenon of populism, the weakening of attachment to democracy that one sees in the Western World and for that matter other parts of the world with an emphasis on Europe and the transatlantic relationship.”
Image Credit: Deidra Dilworth