Good morning, and welcome to our liveblog of the Heart of Europe Debating Championship 2013 final! The proposal today is: “In the long-run, there is no hope to save the euro but a federal Europe.”
Arguing in favour is a team from the USA, and against a team from Canada (so, both teams are from outside of Europe!)
And, that’s it! The judges will now retire and consider their decision. For my money, Team Canada managed to reverse what seemed initially like a very challenging position and came out with the stronger arguments.
Team USA seems to be undermining their earlier argument. The current speaker says: “We need a centralised authority and cooperation. We can’t have unilateral people going out and doing their own thing.”
The speaker is now advocating a “centralised Europe”, which seems to contradict their earlier point about “centralisation” versus “federalism”.
Team Canada is not being distracted, though. Very clearly, their speaker is now arguing that they don’t need to propose an alternative to federalism in order to win the debate. All they need to do is to prove that the euro is doomed to fail. The speaker says: “If we can do this, we have won the debate. All we need to do is prove: A) The euro can’t be saved, and B) Your solution certainly doesn’t help.”
Team USA has opened a new line of attack, based on Team Canada’s argument that the euro is doomed to fail. They argue that “If the euro continues to fail, then it will be catastrophic.”
However, the motion doesn’t say anything about whether failure of the euro is a good or bad thing. Let’s see if Team Canada will be drawn into this argument anyway.
Team USA are attempting to draw a distinction between “federalism” and what they call “centralisation”. They argue that their version of federalism is very limited, applying only to certain aspects of fiscal policy. They say this is not about “blending all cultures together. That is not relevant to a fiscal debate.”
Actually, Team Canada has hit on a very clever strategy. They are arguing that the euro is doomed no matter what happens. So, rather than arguing:
“In the long-run, there is no hope to save the euro but a federal Europe.”
They seem to be arguing:
“In the long-run, there is no hope to save the euro.”
This is clever, because it avoids the challenge of them arguing in favour of the euro but against fiscal integration.
I see the speaker’s hand waving at the bottom of the screen, which suggests that the “table” in front of the livestream camera is actually an enormous podium. If so, it must be twice the size of the speakers!
Team USA is, indeed, coming out swinging on the issue of definitions. They argue that “federal Europe” does not mean centralisation of political power, it just means that certain policies are formed across borders (which seems quite a loose definition of federalism to me). The speaker has a good line, though, saying: “Centralisation is a term used by people who are scared.”
It also looks like they’re aware of the fundamental challenge of Team USA’s position. The speaker argues: “They say the euro is doomed no matter what we do. In other words, they are ignoring half of the resolution!”
Interesting. It sounds like Team Canada is advocating some form of “limited” fiscal integration as a way to save the euro, but they argue that this would stop short of a “federal Europe”, which they define much more strongly.
Let’s see if Team USA decide to challenge those terms.
Unfortunately, the livesteam is currently giving us an exciting view of what looks like a table…
The real challenge for Team Canada is that the motion is not about saving “Europe”, but rather it is about saving the single currency. That means that a lot of classic eurosceptic arguments against the euro can’t be used.
A strong rebuttal from Team Canada, who open by redefining federalism as logically (according to the current speaker) including “political union, defence policy, budget policy” and so on. They then argue that this transfer of powers to the European level is deeply unpopular and would be fundamentally undemocratic.
The speaker for team USA is defining “federal” as a common “fiscal policy” (by which they seem to mean a common tax and spending policies). The eurozone crisis was, the current speaker argues, caused by a discrepancy between monetary and fiscal policies.
The USA and Canada are, of course, both federal systems, and this might influence the interpretation of the term “federal” by the teams. But are there different forms of “federalism” or is it all-or-nothing?
Team USA is kicking things off by arguing in favour of the motion. First of all, they have to define exactly what is meant by “federal Europe”.