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Empire - The Debate

A German Europe? The Union Disunited

In the shadow of the German elections, we travel across the continent to investigate the future of the European project.

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2013 17:01
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A continent with an identity crisis, economies with crises of confidence, and one nation looming large over the fortunes of its neighbours, Europe stands between extended integration and enforced disintegration.

As the dust settles after Germany's elections, Empire travels across the continent to ask: what is the future of the European project?

With bailouts and bankrupt member states draining the eurozone’s resources - as well as its credibility - and technocratic demands challenging the ideal of sovereign democracy, we visit the countries gaining the most and those losing the most as the European Union seeks to survive and strives to consolidate.

As the financial crisis that began in 2008 continues to force ruptures in the world’s largest trading bloc, Empire ventures to France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Greece and Germany to find out precisely how the principles of unity and cooperation are faring alongside the reality of austerity and dependence.

In Paris, we visit the editorial team of Le Monde Diplomatique to understand the waning of French influence for one of Europe’s founding members. We travel to the EU’s administrative heart in Brussels to examine the Union’s evolving and troubled course. We dissect how those troubles are being made manifest on the streets and in the parliamentary chambers in Athens, and, how the power-players of Prague are taking to the European Project with eager zeal.

In this unfolding European journey, we ask which roads lead to Berlin. In the German capital, Empire tackles the hegemony of Germany head-on, and asks if it is a reluctant leader, and if Europe is set to become more German or whether Germany is prepared to become more European.

In this episode

Helping us cut to the core debates of these issues are Alain Gresh, Anne-Cecile Robert, and Serge Halimi of Le Monde Diplomatique in Paris.

In Brussels we are joined by Giles Merritt, a former Financial Times European correspondent and founder/secretary general of policy-making think-tank Friends of Europe.

In the Czech Republic, we speak to Tomas Hudecek, the mayor of Prague; Michal Mejstrik, from Charles University in Prague; and Vladimír Dlouhy, the Republic’s first minister of industry and trade, and a member of the European Regional Advisory Group of the International Monetary Fund.

In Athens, we meet members of unsigned punk-rock band Teflon to discuss life under austerity, and we visit the Greek House of Parliament to speak with former journalist turned independent MP Liana Kanelli.

Our Berlin guests are Judy Dempsey, a senior associate at Carnegie Europe and a columnist at the International New York Times (previously the International Herald Tribune); German political scientist Ulrike Guerot, who is a senior associate for Germany at the Open Society Initiative for Europe and who was previously a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and, Marcel Fratzscher, the president of the German Institute for Economic Research, a professor of macroeconomics and finance at Humboldt-University Berlin and formerly the head of international policy analysis at the European Central Bank.

Empire can be seen from the last Sunday of every month at 2000GMT, and is re-aired during the following week at these times GMT: Monday: 1200GMT; Tuesday: 0100GMT; Wednesday: 0600GMT.


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Al Jazeera
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