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Douglas Kessel / Senior Staff Photographer

Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou discussed how to fix the current economic conditions in Europe.

How do you repair the European Union?

A panel that included former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, now a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, and Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz tackled this question with varying degrees of optimism at Low Rotunda on Monday in a World Leaders Forum event.

Stiglitz, also a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, said that he blamed Europe's economic problems on its currency.

"This is a man-made disaster, and it has four letters: the Euro," Stiglitz said. "We don't have adequate solidarity to make the Euro work."

Stiglitz suggested that it might be necessary to sacrifice the Euro and reform the "European framework."

Kemal Dervis, the former Turkish minister for economic affairs and the treasury, echoed Stiglitz' sentiments.

"The Eurozone has to integrate much more," Dervis said. "Events have proven it that you cannot have a common currency without much stronger integration of overall economic policy, fiscal policy, budget-straight policy, and banking regulation."

George Soros, a Hungarian-American business tycoon and the founder and chairman of Soros Fund Management, also said that he too believed the Euro was flawed from the start and criticized the changing structure of Europe.

He also said that he regretted the emergence of palpable class divisions, which he called politically unacceptable.

"Political and financial aspects are separate aspects, but they are intertwined," Soros said.

Anne Anderson, who has served as the United Nations' Ambassador to Ireland since 2009, said that she believed Europe could fix its political and economic issues.

"I am a committed European, intellectually and emotionally," Anderson said. "At the same time, I don't consider myself any kind of a cheerleader for the European project."

Still, she added, "I genuinely believe that Europe will regain the momentum despite the current political difficulties, and I think my own country Ireland is going to contribute to that momentum."

Papandreou, who started teaching at SIPA this semester, presented possible solutions to Europe's economic problems, including a stimulus plan, reducing unemployment, and democratizing the European Union.

He said that economic recovery was possible—so long as European citizens focus on addressing the difficulties, rather than finding a source of blame.

Nicolas Zaharya, SIPA '13, said, "It was especially comforting to feel that there was a good deal of pessimism about Europe."

"It is not underestimating the problem," Zaharya added, calling Europe's issues "very complex."

Zaharya, however, said that he would have liked to hear more about the incentives of politicians and the people to engage with the European Union.

"There was not much of debate in terms of the party politics and politics on the national scale, and its implications and impacts on the prospects on Europe as a whole," he said.

Dimitra Karachaliou, a master's student at SEAS and a native of Greece, also expressed the uncertainty of the outcome.

"They try in the end to bring some hope," Karachaliou said. "I hope it will go in good end, but I don't know when and for how many years."

Pablo Slutzky, Business '17, said he believes that leaders should save the European Union by acting to solve the problems, rather than discussing them.

"You have to act now," he said. "You can't keep talking or planning, discussing what is the best solution, because like they say, people suffer every day." | @ColumbiaSpec

World Leaders Forum Joseph Stiglitz George Papandreou European Union