Miami is an ideal location for a European Union Center because it is the nexus of long-standing links among the Southeast Florida Region, Latin America and the Caribbean, and countries of the European Union. Connected by culture, travel and tourism, and extensive trade ties to our area, the EU has played a prominent role in the development of Miami into a vibrant multicultural metropolis. The larger EU countries maintain diplomatic and trade legations in Miami, and many European banking, finance, insurance and other firms maintain regional headquarters here.

Volume 1, Issue 2, Part 1

Death Penalty Divides Transatlantic Panel

Imagine the international arena as a high school yard, where like-minded teenagers cluster in distinct groups. In such a setting, the United States and most European nations hang close in the center of the posh crowd – most of the time. When views and practices on the death penalty become the grouping criterion, however, America turns its back to the good kids and walks over to the bullies.

“Most of the great democracies in the world have abolished the death penalty,” a high-ranking French diplomat told a roomful of FIU law scholars. “You guys are the greatest democracy in the
world and I have to say you are in very cruel company in terms of the countries that use the
death penalty.”

Philippe Vinogradoff, Consul General of France in Miami, and his German, Italian and Spanish counterparts came to the FIU College of Law Sept. 24 to serve as “the spark that ignites the debate” on the United States’ use of the death penalty.

Professors Scott Fingerhut and Megan Fairlie,
and the Hon. Philippe Vinogradoff,
Consul General of France in Miami

Long and spirited, the transatlantic exchange drew a large student audience. But it produced no convergence on a topic that reflects some of a society’s most deep-seated beliefs and character traits. Instead, it revealed unyielding chasms on the way the United States and Europe perceive punishment, redemption and how human life should be valued and protected.

The debate was organized by the MiamiFlorida European Union Center of Excellence (MEUCE) at the law school’s Courtroom 1000. Apart from the Consuls General, the European contingent featured Sven Kuhn Von Burgsdorff, a member of the European Commission with a long career in diplomacy currently doing a fellowship at the University of Miami. On the U.S. side, Megan Fairlie, assistant professor at the FIU College of Law, gave an overview of the history and nature of the death penalty in the United States. Scott Fingerhut, assistant director of the law school’s Trial Advocacy Program and a fellow at the FIU Honors College, played the role of the devil’s advocate and made the case for the use of the death penalty.

The death penalty in the United States has gone through different phases, itsapplicationprogressively narrowing, Fairlie explained. Until the mid-1800s, the penalty was automatic for certain types of crimes. After that, legislators started to recognize different levels of culpability, eventually limiting the punishment to capital murder. But, until 1972, juries enjoyed “unguided discretion,” resulting in the penalty’s arbitrary and racially-discriminatory application. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that this violated the Eighth Amendment, instituting a regime of “guided discretion” for juries.

The punishment’s two main functions, deterrence and retribution, must comport with evolving standards of decency. One of the ways for the Supreme Court to determine these standards is to
look outside the United States at what is going on in the rest of the world, Fairlie said. She heralded
the opportunity to exchange notes on the issue with the European diplomats present at the debate. “This is kind of a brilliant opportunity for us to have a primary source,” she said.

Part 2

Pure American Sense of Justice vs. An Absolute Right to Life

Professors Scott Fingerhut and Megan 1st row audience left to right:
Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, Dr. Joaquín
Roy, Hon. Klaus Ranner, Hon. Marco Rocca
The Hon. Philippe Vinogradoff chatting with
Professors Scott Fingerhut and Megan students after the debate.

Vinogradoff said his goal was to promote awareness that standards of decency were changing in the rest of world, and world opinion has an impact on the United States.“It is a cause of a very bad image for the country outside in the democratic world,” the French Consul General said of the punishment.

He stressed, however, that the Europeans were not there to preach. “We are not here to give lessons, we are here to be an opportunity to open the debate between yourselves,” Vinogradoff said. “I am a foreign diplomat, and this is an American debate.Making the case for the death penalty, Fingerhut explained why it has been sanctioned in the United States. The goal of the government is to protect its people, he said. To this end, the risk that innocent people may be convicted in error is inherent
and acceptable. Besides, the death penalty is reserved for a very specific type of offenders and crimes; those that are violent, heinous, cruel and vicious. More importantly, it enjoys popular endorsement.

“The Constitution is you,” said Fingerhut, addressing students present in the room. “We have to leave it in your hands.” Neither closure to victims’ families nor deterrence is this punishment’s primary goals, although its deterrence value is considerable, Fingerhut said. Rather, its function is justice, springing from the core of the American moral fiber. “It is pure American sense of justice, justice in the sense of retribution, justice in the sense of permanent incapacitation of dangerous murderers,” he said. The punishment derives its legitimacy from basic American values related to human life. As such, it constitutes “a complete respect for life and truly speaks for the people,” Fingerhut said.Respect for life plays out differently in the European worldview.

“The right to life is an absolute right,” said Von Burgsdorff. He said the European view stems in part from Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant posited that humans beings should never be made a means to an end, that no human life should be sacrificed to save however many others.
Law students present at the workshop evoked incidents with mass loss of life to gauge the limits and flexibility of the European perspective.

A student asked the Spanish diplomat present whether Spain would consider the death penalty for those responsible for the 2004 Madrid bombings. Somber yet resolute, Pilar Méndez Jiménez explained that, even in cases as extreme as this, death penalty is not an option. “There can be no retribution whatsoever for what happened in Madrid,” said the Deputy Consul General of Spain in Miami. “We cannot put ourselves at the same level as they do. We have higher moral standards and
standards of decency than terrorists do.”

By Cynthia Malakasis

Part 3

MEUCE Funds Doctoral Research on EU
Foreign Policy and Financial Intelligence

By Cynthia Malakasis

A potential shift in EU foreign policy toward “hard” power and the comparative performance of European governments in countering financial crimes are the two doctoral research topics funded
by the Miami European Union Center for Excellence (MEUCE) in 2007-08. Annual research grants ranging from €1,000 to €2,000 finance any research-related activity, such as travel and data acquisition, of faculty and Ph.D. candidates in several Florida institutions. Their purpose is to strengthen studies of the European Union, said Elisabeth Prügl, MEUCE co-director.

They have served their purpose this year by, among other things, inserting a European element
to a doctoral project originally focused solely on North America. “Without these funds, I wouldn’t have been able to conduct my research in Europe,” said Jayesh D’Souza, Ph.D. candidate in Public Administration at Florida International University. D’Souza researches the performance of government financial intelligence units in tracking funds from illegal activities, such as money laundering, aimed to finance acts of terrorism. The grant enabled him to travel to London and Berlin and conduct interviews with experts there, in addition to
his work in North America.

“We strengthened the comparative element of what he was doing,” said Prügl, who also emphasized
that D’Souza is the first Public Administration student to receive a MEUCE research grant. On his part, D’Souza underlined the help he received from MEUCE and specifically from Prügl in establishing research contacts in Europe.

The other grantee needed no help or incentive to focus on Europe; born in Italy and raised transnationally, between the United States and sever al Eur opean countries, Francesco Ortoleva has what he
describes as “an intimate connection to Europe.”

An International Relations Ph.D. candidate, Ortoleva hypothesizes an identity shift in European Union foreign policy, from a “soft” approach, focusing on peace, justice and humanitarian issues, to a more traditional foreign policy orientation, geared toward defense and security.

The other grantee needed no help or incentive to focus on Europe; born in Italy and raised transnationally, between the United States and sever al Eur opean countries, Francesco Ortoleva has what he describes as “an intimate connection to Europe.”

An International Relations Ph.D. candidate, Ortoleva hypothesizes an identity shift in European Union foreign policy, from a “soft” approach, focusing on peace, justice and humanitarian issues, to a more traditional foreign policy orientation, geared toward defense and security.

Ph.D. Candidate Francesco
Ortoleva will spend
time in Brussels researching
a potential shift in EU
foreign policy toward
“hard” power.

This shift, Ortoleva argues, stems from the influence of epistemic communities outside the Brussels EU apparatus, linked to the European defense industry. The grant will enable him to travel to Brussels and talk to members of the Political and Security Committee (PCS), an EU body made up of the political directors of the member states’ foreign ministries, as well as to members of think tanks with inroads to the PCS.

Prügl stressed the relevance of Ortoleva’s research. “Francesco’s research is smack in the middle of one of the hottest topics right now,” she said. In addition to the doctoral students, the center also financed a faculty member from the University of Central Florida this year. Barbara Sgouraki Kinsey, assistant professor of Political Science, received a grant for her research entitled “EU common immigration policy and immigrants’ participation in local elections.”

The grant is open to faculty and Ph.D. candidates at Florida International University, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, and the University of North Florida.

Dr. Barbara Sgouraki
Kinsey, Assistant
Professor, Political
Science, UCF

 

Part 4

EU: Patchwork Power or Unitary Actor?

The European Union’s representation in international institutions and its role in global governance so far can only be described as “patchwork power.” But the current global financial crisis presents an opportunity for the EU to operate as unitary actor. “Faced with global challenges, Europe seems
to be better placed to act than individual member states,” said Roger Coate, Distinguished Professor
of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. “What is happening now gives global
governance a new platform to operate.”

Coate addressed a crowd of FIU students and academics Oct. 13 in a lecture organized by the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence (MEUCE). His talk aimed to explore what
kind of actor Europe is in the context of global governance. The European Union does not fit the definition of a civilian actor, Coate said. A civilian actor is a power that accepts the necessity of cooperation when pursuing international goals, uses nonmilitary, mainly economic means to secure its national interests, and is willing to develop international structures to regulate international action.

Dr. Markus Thiel, Dr. François Debrix, Dr. Elisabeth Prügl,
Dr. Mohiaddin Mesbahi and Dr. Roger Coate.

But an effective civilian actor also displays cohesiveness in his/her action and this is why Europe does not fit the model, Coate said. While the EU presents a unitary front in some areas, such as trade and the environment, in others “it does not speak with the same voice,” said Coate, who stressed he considers himself an expert in international organization rather than a Europeanist. Representation in international organizations alternates between EU institutions and individual member states. In the current financial crisis, for example, the European Central Bank (ECB) speaks for monetary policy, but has no control in terms of financial regulations, which reverts back to the member states. Representation problems also stem from the fact that not all EU members have adopted the common European currency and from some members’ participation in G7/8
meetings, Coate said.

“The EU's role in global governance is thus constrained by a bewildering pattern of external
representation,” he said. So far, the EU has used ad hoc solutions to external representation at institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G7 finance ministers, the Financial Stability Forum and the G20. But emerging markets and non-European countries have been exerting increasing pressure for a more coherent EU representation in international bodies.

The current financial crisis enables the EU to operate as a unitary actor in four main ways, Coate
said. It can safeguard a democratic society and the rule of law continent-wide, build a large market
that fosters the emergence of globally competitive companies, build the capacity to resist external
shocks and to influence economic and political developments in the rest of the world, and safeguard the security and defense of the continent and the promotion of sustainable development in Europe
and in developing countries. Coate ended his lecture at the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Pavilion of the
MARC building at Florida International University with a question to his audience.

“Given this patchwork power identity for the EU, what are the roles for the EU/Europe in rebuilding effective global governance in global finance and security?” At the end of the lecture, students present took the opportunity to pick Coate’s brain. One undergraduate student asked what the best way is for the EU to help the United States during the financial crisis. Coates responded that the EU should first stop blaming the U.S. for the crisis and then strengthen its own position by acting coherently.

Another student asked about the possibility of an EU seat at the United Nations Security Council. Coates responded that, although Britain and France would be reluctant to relinquish their spots for a
unitary EU seat, the possibility may arise if the other members start to really push it.

By Cynthia Malakasis and Francesco Ortoleva

Part 5

German Professor Lectures on European Logistics

Professor
Richard
Vahrenkamp

Think “of the twenty yards of shelve space” filled with so many different
brands of cereal in your grocery store. And then think of how boxes of cereal and countless other consumer goods make their way to store shelves and display windows, within a constant arm’s reach of the Western consumer.

The steep increase in the volume and diversification of consumer goods since the 1950s has spurred the need for much more efficient transportation mechanisms, a German professor told his FIU audience Oct. 8. Facilitating transportation across Europe, in turn, has required changes ranging from the construction of expressways to the opening of national borders.

A guest of the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence (MEUCE), Richard Vahrenkamp teaches logistics at the University of Kassel in Germany.

He defined his subject as the study of the transportation, storage and transshipment of goods. His lecture at Green Library 220 illustrated the factors that led to high-performance logistics in Europe in the period 1945-2000 and the necessary changes that prompted the integration of the European economy.

Vahrencamp divided the consumer-oriented economy in two segments, consumer goods and the retail trade on one hand and the automobile industry on the other. Both, he said, began their boom in the 1950s.Responding to the new need for quick and safe road travel but also to strong pressure from the car industry, European governments boosted their construction of expressways.

Indicatively, expressways in France expanded to 6824 kilometers in 1990 from a mere 174 in 1960. The network of expressways formed the backbone of the post-1950s consumeroriented economy, Vahrenkamp posited, diminishing the role of railroad transportation. To support his main argument, that a consumer-oriented economy and high-performance logistics cause and rely on each other, Vahrenkamp juxtaposed the former with a Communist economy. Featuring a weak consumer goods sector and a low number of cars per capita, a Communist economy has no need to develop the infrastructure of high-performance logistics.

As a result, the supply of consumer goods is haphazard and not adjusted to the demand. Vahrenkamp outlined how the need for fast and efficient transportation of goods led to the opening of many of Europe’s national borders. At the end of WWII, it was impossible for a loaded truck to cross a border. The cargo thus had to be unloaded and transferred behind the border to another truck. To facilitate the exchange of goods, an array of European institutions emerged, culminating in the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958, which became the European Union in 1993.
The ensuing abolition of custom controls for trucks and multiple permits for products greatly simplified logistics and forged distribution systems that served customers regardless of political
borders.

In the 1990s, Vahrenkamp said, several events came together to form the logistics revolution. These include the liberalization of transportation and telecommunications markets and postal services and the collapse of Communism.

Professor Vahrenkamp addressing a gathering of FIU
scholars. Facing him is MEUCE-FIU director Elisabeth Prügl.

FIU students listening to the lecture Transportation and the
Creation of an Integrated European Economy Since 1945.

 

Part 6

Students Gather to Explore the Meaning of Being European

It’s all about sharing difference.

“I feel European when I get in touch and exchange with Europeans, with the diversity of languages, when I travel, when I cross borders,” German exchange student Stephanie Kessler told a group who gathered to explore what it means to be European. Hailing from a variety of backgrounds and enjoying distinct relationships to the continent, those present rejected a single, set meaning of Europeanness.

“Using that word, European, is to limit someone to one identity,” said Belgian Tanguy Euben. “And European is a sum of identities.” What emerged from their exchange instead was a shared experience of cultures and people meeting, meshing, changing and retaining their distinctiveness at the same time.

“To be European is to be conscious of diversity and of the opposition to it,” Euben said. Organized by EUROPE – Student Association and by the MiamiFlorida European Union Center of Excellence (MEUCE) on Oct. 28, the roundtable featured presentations by four European students, an Italian-American and a Colombian who spent
a year in France.

The presentations and the discussion that followed at Green Library 220 explored issues of overlapping regional, national and European identifications, cultural and linguistic diversity, unity and division, inclusion and exclusion and, ultimately, Europe’s nebulous borders of belonging. Skeptics have worried about staunch national sentiments precluding a European sense of belonging. But strong local attachments and close, shifting national borders sometimes make it easier to combine a local with a pan-European identification, bypassing the national scale.

Raised in a town on the juncture of three national borders, Kessler’s identity was shaped more as local and European rather than national German.“People from other countries label me as German because of my language, my behavior, etc.,” she said. Her hometown of Görlitz was split after WWII between Germany and Poland. The Czech Republic is an hour away.“From my parents’ house, it’s just a five minute walk to Poland,” Kessler said. “My parents go shopping for their groceries in Poland, my grandmother used to go to the beauty salon in Poland, most menus in restaurants are bilingual, as well as most people working in shops in both sides of town. It’s a constant contact with a different language and a different culture.”

Italian regionalism, or campanilismo, functioned in a similar way, explained Italian-American Francesco Ortoleva. People who never felt Italian, but rather Milanese, Sicilian or Tuscan found it easier to embrace a supranational identity than those with strong national sentiments. But the “umbrella identity” itself has done little to forge cultural affinity, said English Anne Braseby. “Despite the world becoming flatter, culturally, the many countries of Europe are worlds apart,” she said.The lack of a common language is a major factor that prevents cultural
unification, she said.

“Without a common language, it is very hard for a country to feel united, never mind a continent,” Braseby said. “No wonder the British want to hold on to the pound, and not be metricized, and still drive on the left. They do not feel European.” An anthropologist focusing on migration, Braseby
wondered whether and how immigrants may identify as European, especially if they have been denied access to or rejected the national identity of their host country. “Would the second generation, who may be having a hard time dealing with the dual identities already imposed on them, embrace a third?” she asked.

For Braseby, who remembers Europe “even before the Common Market” differences may stand out more. A native of former Yugoslavia who cherishes unity all the more after the breakup of his homeland held a different view.“The European Union provides this broad place for people to be welcome,” said Bosnian student Mirsad Krijestorac, who heads the student association that organized the roundtable. As Europeans pondered the ambiguity of their shared identity, an outside observer listed what she sees as the key features of Europe.

For Marccia Moreno, a Colombian student who spent a year in Europe, fashion, food and the attitude toward leisure are the traits that make Europeans similar to each other and different from other parts of the world.“Europeans appreciate the time to eat by taking several hours and seem to work less hours during the week, just to take time for themselves or their families,” she said. If Europe is all this and then more, then whom would you allow to be European? Krijestorac asked, as a way to cap the discussion.

Geography, culture, respect for democracy and human rights were some of the criteria listed. Braseby put it into one sentence.“Anyone who is willing to live in Europe legally, being as productive as they can, working, giving to the continent as well as taking from the continent,” she said.

Students Form Group to Unite Europe Aficionados, Emulate EU Climate of Cooperation, Dialogue and Inclusiveness

When war ravaged his native Yugoslavia and the neighboring apostle of peace and unity, the European Union, failed to stop the bloodshed, Mirsad Krijestorac did not think much of the European model. Almost two decades later, he is trying to emulate this model to create a European community of students at Florida International University

Krijestorac, a FIU senior in Print Journalism, heads a budding student group, Europe - Student Association. The objective, he said, is to transfer the European atmosphere of inclusiveness and dialogue, to create a place where, similar to Europe, people look to cooperate with each other.
“We hope to create these personal connections between people,” said Krijestorac. The choice of “Europe” instead of “European” in the group’s name reflects the goal to bring together students hailing from Europe and students interested in Europe, Krijestorac explained.


“We hope to become a bridge for these groups,” he said. FIU is home to numerous students who come from Europe as well as plenty of students who are interested in the continent, but currently these groups do not form a community, said Elisabeth Prügl, co-director of the Miami European Union Center of Excellence.

“I think this [group] is going to be a tremendous tool for community building,” said Prügl, who encouraged Krijestorac to launch the association. Rebecca Friedman, FIU historian and the group’s faculty advisor, talked about these two groups coming together and creating an identity within the university.

“They don’t all know each other and know of each other’s interests,” said Friedman, who also heads the European Studies Certificate program at FIU.Students who made it to the group’s first meeting on Tuesday, September 23, shared their ideas for the group.

“This is our most important goal: to share European cosmopolitanism in as diversified an organization as possible,” said Belgian student Tanguy Euben.“It increases the cultural, personal, academic exchange between European and American students,” said German student Stefanie
Kessler.

The group’s activities will include social, cultural and academic events, Krijestorac said, such as sports, dinners, film viewings, lectures, etc.

Part 7

Miami Students Learn About the Euro, Travel to the Big Apple

Molly Niedbala

Students and teachers from eight Miami high schools explored the hurdles and perks of different countries sharing a currency last April, in a learning-intensive yet fun competition that ended with a full-paid trip to the Big Apple and a shot at national recognition for two of the teams.

“Not only was I able to delve into a topic that enticed my teammates and I, but we were given the opportunity to share our passion for that topic as well, in front of expert judges,” said Molly Niedbala, a student at Miami Palmetto Senior High School.

Niedbala and other Miami students took part in the Euro Challenge 2008, a competition designed to give students across the United States an understanding of the European economy and the euro, the currency shared by many of the Union’s 27 member-states.

Previously targeted to high schools in the Northeast, the competition made it to Miami for the first time in April 2008 via the Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence (MEUCE), as part of the center’s wider community outreach mission. Local participants talked about pressing gaps in their knowledge and how the competition helped fill them. “The vast majority of my peers are entirely out of the loop when it comes to anything that isn’t American. However, changing times call for changing measures of education,” Niedbala said. “The insight our project gave me into the affairs of our world outside the United States is something that I am sure will prove valuable in the years to come.”

Insight in the workings of the world outside the United States and particularly Europe and its economy is precisely the goal of the competition, masterminded by the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States and launched with the help of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said Elisabeth Prügl, MEUCE co-director.

Prügl stressed how knowledge seeps into the community through the small population of students and teachers trained. Students take it into their homes and peer groups, teachers pass it on to other students.“Teachers teach, teachers are multipliers,” she said.Prügl talked about an intensive process that involved local professors and officers from the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States and from Miami consulates of EU member states as training staff and judges.

The competition was based on themes designed to explore the connection between a common currency and public policy, she said. Themes included how a common currency constrains or enables national governments when trying to forge policies combating high inflation or unemployment.

“It required quite a bit of creativity on the part of the kids
who did them,” Prügl said. The Miami Palmetto and Coral Reef senior high schools
won the local competition on April 8, but did not manage to defeat seasoned competitors from Northeastern high schools in New York. But, long-term benefits count much more, participants said.

Ralphie Harro

 

“The experience is one I will never forget and has helped increase my desire to pursue the study of economics in the future, especially in a broader view of international economics,” said Ralphie Harro, a student at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. Niedbala stressed the all-around gains.
“In the process, we became more innovative, cooperative and, dare I say, cultured,” she said.