On Thursday, Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt spoke at AEI about the economic climate of Europe and how upcoming elections may affect it.
Dr. Van Overtveldt cited uncertainty as the main risk to European economies. This uncertainty stems from upcoming elections in France and Germany, ongoing Brexit talks, geopolitical tensions over Syria and Russia, and the specter of protectionism coming from the United States. He stated that while European economies had made extensive progress in opening up their markets over the past two decades, economic tools for measuring the need for and efficacy of such reforms remain limited. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the possibility of the eurozone reforming itself. The relative success of such actions as banking reform give him hope that self-reform is possible.
Finally, Dr. Van Overtveldt noted that one of the biggest and broadest challenges to the EU is determining which competencies should be devolved to the national level and which ones should be elevated to the continent-wide level. He argued that European-wide reforms on energy policy are necessary, particularly to confront uncertainty over Russian energy sources. However, he maintained that other continent-wide policies, such as tax harmonization, could impede the competitiveness of smaller European countries.
Belgium is, in many ways, a microcosm of Europe. The economies of its northern and southern regions are starkly different, and issues such as (de)centralization, cultural diversity, and language barriers have long dominated its politics. The principal EU institutions and NATO headquarters are in Brussels, making Belgium a key player in both organizations. In short, Belgium can provide valuable policy lessons to inform broader economic and political developments throughout Europe and across the Atlantic.
Are the worst effects of the 2008 crisis finally receding, not only in Belgium but also across Europe and the United States? Please join AEI for a conversation with Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt on economic policy, risks, and opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Dalibor Rohac, AEI
Johan Van Overtveldt, Kingdom of Belgium
Johan Van Overtveldt, Kingdom of Belgium
Dalibor Rohac, AEI
Stan Veuger, AEI
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Johan Van Overtveldt has been the Belgian minister of finance since 2014. He had previously served as a member of the European Parliament for the New Flemish Alliance. Before entering politics, Dr. Van Overtveldt was a professor of economics at the University of Hasselt. He has also worked in a variety of roles as a private-sector economist and in journalism, most recently as editor-in-chief of the business and finance magazine Trends. He is the author of several books, including “A Giant Reborn: Why the US Will Dominate the 21st Century” (Agate B2, 2015) and “The Chicago School: How the University of Chicago Assembled the Thinkers Who Revolutionized Economics and Business” (Agate B2, 2007). Dr. Van Overtveldt holds a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in applied economics from the University of Antwerp and an M.B.A. from the Catholic University of Leuven.
Dalibor Rohac is a research fellow at AEI, where he studies European political and economic trends. Specifically, he is working on Central and Eastern Europe, the European Union (EU) and the eurozone, US-EU relations, and the post-Communist transitions and backsliding of countries in the former Soviet bloc. He is concurrently a visiting fellow at the Max Beloff Centre for the Study of Liberty at the University of Buckingham in the UK and a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. Before joining AEI, Dr. Rohac was affiliated with the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and the London-based Legatum Institute. He has also worked in the office of the president of the Czech Republic in Prague. His book “Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) was selected by Foreign Affairs as one of the best books of 2016. Dr. Rohac’s commentary has been published in The New York Times, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal Europe, among other outlets. His scholarly articles have been featured in professional journals, among them Constitutional Political Economy, Journal of Institutional Economics, and the European Journal for the History of Economic Thought. He has a Ph.D. in political economy from King’s College London, an M.Phil. in economics from University of Oxford, an M.A. in economics from George Mason University, and a B.A. in economics from Charles University in Prague.
Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI, where his research is in political economy and public finance. He is also the editor of AEI Economic Perspectives. In the fall of 2016, he was a visiting lecturer of economics at Harvard University. Dr. Veuger’s research has been published in leading academic and professional journals, including the Journal of Monetary Economics, the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. He is the editor, with Michael Strain, of “Economic Freedom and Human Flourishing: Perspectives from Political Philosophy” (AEI Press, 2016). He also writes frequently for general audiences on economics, politics, and popular culture. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The National Interest, The New York Times, USA Today, and US News & World Report, among others. Dr. Veuger serves as a board member of the Altius Society and as the chairman of the Washington, DC, chapter of the Netherland-America Foundation. He received a Ph.D. and an A.M. in economics from Harvard and an M.Sc. in economics from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He completed his undergraduate education at Utrecht University and Erasmus University Rotterdam.