Europe’s New Wave: The Threats and Pressures from Nationalist and Populist Movements on Europe’s Future

The Conference Board of Canada, February 15, 2018
Recorded Webinar
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The European Union is Canada’s second largest trade and investment partner, and is a key focus of Canadian trade and investment efforts, especially since the signing of Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Within the 27-member EU bloc, however, there are numerous pressures from nationalists and populists that threaten to drive further division in the European project.

While elections earlier this year in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Austria appeared to beat back some of the populist-nationalist tide, the trend is different in Central and Eastern Europe. The recent election in the Czech Republic saw a euro-skeptic populist party win the largest share of the vote. And the collapse of negotiations for a new government in Germany could lead to new elections and increased uncertainty in the most powerful country in the EU.

Canada and other advanced countries have poured investment into Central and Eastern Europe in recent decades. Trade and investment agreements such as CETA promised to accelerate this pace. What does the political environment in many of these countries mean for the future of the EU?

Get answers on a complicated subject from an expert in Central and Eastern European political economy. Dr. Besnik Pula has studied European integration, regional economies in Europe and the global political economy more generally.

Webinar Highlights

During this recorded webinar, Dr. Pula highlights some key trends about the nationalist and populist movement in Europe:

  • Economic growth alone is not the antidote to nationalism – Andrej Babis’ victory in the Czech elections indicates that the populist wave has not spared this relatively successful democracy and market economy.
  • Europe has few tools to quell nationalist movements in countries -- The ruling nationalist leaders in Hungary and Poland are able to take illiberal and anti-democratic steps within their countries and the EU has limited ways to sanction such activities.
  • Nationalist leaders pose a threat to EU reform – Leaders such as Andrej Babis, Victor Orban in Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland have stirred trouble for German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron and their plans to implement reforms within the EU.

About Besnik

Besnik Pula is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Professor Pula’s research interests lie in the comparative political economy of developing countries, post-communist transformations, and the social and institutional impacts of globalization. His current interests include issues of European integration and what those processes have meant for both regional economies in Europe as well as the global political economy more generally.

Professor Pula has been published in scholarly journals, including Political Power and Social Theory, and Theory and Society; and has contributed chapters to several books.

He received his bachelor's degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York, a master's degree from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the faculty at Virginia Tech, he was a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University.

His book, Globalization Under and After Socialism: The Evolution of Transnational Capital in Central and Eastern Europe, will be published by Stanford University Press in 2018.

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