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“A Pioneering Spirit”: Commemorating 50 years of the Werner Report

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Published on Wednesday, 07 October 2020

On 7 October, the University of Luxembourg’s Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2 DH) kicked off the two-day conference “The Werner Report 50 years on. Economic and Monetary Union in Uncertain Times: Learning from the Past to Navigate the Future”.

The Werner Report, authored by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Pierre Werner in 1970, sketched out an ambitious blueprint for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in the European community and the later single common currency, the Euro.

Commenting on the “surprising modernity” of the Werner report, Prof. Andreas Fickers, Director of the C2 DH introduced the conference and its aim to analyse the role of the EMU and the challenges it faced, using an interdisciplinary approach based on archive research and existing literature. The conference explores the multifaceted future challenges that the European single currency faces, addressing questions such as: What steps are still needed to complete the project? How can the international role of the Euro and Europe’s economic and financial autonomy be strengthened? How can technological developments in finance be best addressed? How is the COVID-19 crisis testing the boundaries of European integration?

In his opening address, Prof. Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg said: “Pierre Werner was a visionary. Fifty years ago, he saw the Europe in which we live today, a Europe where a citizen of Luxembourg can travel to 19 countries without ever changing currency. The Euro has made life easier for millions of individuals, entrepreneurs and businesspeople.”

However, a monetary union is far from simple. Some of the difficulties the Euro faces today are partly due to the fact that some countries can no longer use monetary policy to mitigate the shocks to their economies. Still, “Werner had faith in Europe. He believed that Europe should move towards greater unification. He may not have foreseen all of the problems, but he was convinced that people of good will would find solutions,” Pallage added.  

In his keynote address, Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance of Luxembourg, paid tribute to Pierre Werner’s pioneering spirit. He admired Werner’s courage to advocate a currency union without a common economic policy and to consider an economic and monetary union as an accelerator for a political union. Gramegna said: “The Euro as a European construction is a never-ending story. It works step by step. We should never despair of Europe. In all critical situations Europe has lived up to the challenge. And this has happened again in front of our eyes in the last couple of months during this pandemic.”

Royal guest celebrates his very own anniversary

His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg attended the inaugural session of the conference as honorary guest. 7 October marks the 20th anniversary of his accession to the function of head of State. In his opening address, Stéphane Pallage paid tribute to the Grand Duke’s loyal support of the University since its creation: “You have accompanied our University since its creation. You have believed in our ability to position ourselves among the world's best universities in less than 18 years. You have been with us at every important moment in our history. Thank you for letting us share this important moment in your life with you.”

About the conference

The conference is embedded in an event series organised by the C2 DH and partner organisations such as EUI Florence, Robert Triffin International, the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe, the Bridge Forum-Dialogue and others from 6 to 9 October to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Werner Report. A photo exhibition “The early days of Economic and Monetary Union: Pierre Werner, a pragmatic visionary” is on display in the Maison du Savoir on Belval Campus until 31 October.

For more information visit wernerreport50.uni.lu