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47th OeNB Economics Conference, in cooperation with SUERF, Bank of Finland, Sveriges Riksbank and Norges Bank

The EU’s “northern” enlargement 25 years on: A comparative stocktaking and outlook

May 7th and 8th, 2020, Vienna Marriott Hotel, Parkring 12a, 1010 Vienna

The conference has been canceled over concerns about the rapid spread of COVID-19 and related restrictive measures by the Austrian Government.


Following EU accession negotiations and referendums, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the EU in 1995, while Norway decided to remain associated with the EU through the European Economic Area (EEA). On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of these events, we will discuss the following questions from the perspective of these four countries:

  • Has EU/EEA membership lived up to expectations, and has public opinion changed over time?
  • Which effects did participation in the Single Market have on competition, productivity, prices, output, employment and labor markets?
  • How did monetary policy react to the change given different frameworks – euro adoption versus inflation targeting with floating exchange rates?
  • What were the implications for the national financial system? How did the countries cope with the global financial crisis, and how did this compare with previous crisis experiences?
  • To what extent was national economic policy governance materially affected by EU/EEA membership? Have EU governance frameworks made a difference?
  • How did fiscal policies develop? Were the EU’s fiscal rules harmful or helpful?
  • What should be priorities for European cooperation in general and the EU in particular? What could the EU learn from the four countries’ experience in economic policymaking? 

Scientific Coordination:
Anne Berit Christiansen, Norges Bank
Ernest Gnan, OeNB and SUERF
Meri Obstbaum, Bank of Finland
Martin Summer, OeNB
Andreas Westermark, Sveriges Riksbank

Thursday, 7 May 2020
08:15 Registration
09:00 Opening remarks

Robert Holzmann, Governor, OeNB

Jakob de Haan, SUERF President

09:15 Opening address

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President, European Commission (tbc)

09:45 Keynote lecture

A historian’s perspective on the European Union
Harold James, Priceton University

10:15 Coffee break
10:45 Session 1: 25 Years of EU/EEA membership: Comparative Experiences
What were expectations from EU/EEA accession during the negotiations, how do they compare to outcomes? What were economic effects of participation in the single market (competition, productivity, prices, output, employment)? What were effects on labor markets (free movement, union power, wages)? Four panelists with a “long memory” offer their economic assessment of EU/EEA effects on their respective countries 25 years on.

Fritz Breuss, Vienna University of Economics and Business, WIFO

Harry Flam, Professor, Stockholm University

Victor Norman, Professor emeritus, Norwegian School of Economics

Vesa Vihriälä, Professor, Helsinki Graduate School of Economics

12:00 Session 2: Managing Financial Crises: Inside and Outside of the EU
What effect did EEA/EU/euro accession have on the countries’ respective financial systems (banks, capital markets, regulation, supervision)? How did the countries cope with the global financial crisis? What difference did EU/euro versus non-EU/euro membership make? How did this compare with pre-EU/EMU financial crisis experiences?

Lars Jonung, Professor emeritus, Knut Wicksells centrum för finansvetenskap

Torbjørn Hægeland, Executive Director, Financial Stability Department, Norges Bank

Tuomas Välimäki, Member of the Board, Bank of Finland

Thomas Wieser, former Chairman, Eurogroup

13:15 Lunch
14:30 Session 3 - Governors’ Panel: Developing European cooperation and the European Union

What are main challenges and opportunities of the EU/EEA membership from the four countries’ perspective? What should be priorities for the EU’s further development? What could the EU learn from the four countries’ experience in economic policy making?

Robert Holzmann, Governor, Oesterreichische Nationalbank

Stefan Ingves, Governor, Riksbank

Erkki Liikanen, former Member of the European Commission and former Governor, Bank of Finland

Øystein Olsen, Governor, Norges Bank

15:45 Coffee break
16:15 Session 4: EU membership, economic policy making and trade policy
To what extent was economic policy governance in the various countries materially affected by EU/EEA accession? Do EU governance frameworks actually make a difference, and in what respects? How did fiscal policies develop? What effect did EU fiscal rules have, were they a constraint, were they helpful? How was trade policy affected by EU/EEA membership?

Karolina Ekholm, former Deputy Governor, Riksbank

Heinz Handler, Emeritus Consultant, WIFO

Steinar Holden, Professor, University of Oslo

17:30 End of Session 4
19:00 Aperitif
19:30 Fireside chat: “The EU’s Northern Enlargement 25 years on – what priorities for the future”

Robert Holzmann, Governor, OeNB

Gernot Blümel, Federal Minister of Finance Austria (tbc)

Friday, 8 May 2020
09:00 Session 5: European institutions and sovereignty: managing tensions between different sources of legitimacy
The EU’s institutional set-up, while evolving over time, continues to be challenged on the grounds that it lacks democratic legitimacy. National politics continues to be driven by national electorates’ preferences. How do different countries handle the resulting tensions? What might be avenues for reform?

Dorota Leczykiewicz, Professor, Oxford University

Sonja Puntscher Riekmann, University of Salzburg

10:15 Coffee break
10:45 Session 6: The EU, small open economies and the challenges and opportunities from digitalisation
Digitalization is one of the defining forces which will transform the way economies work. The effect will encompass most economic sectors, affect product, labor and financial markets, and challenge economic policies.

Branko Urosevic, University of Belgrade and European Advisory Group

Christopher Warhurst, University of Warwick

12:00 Concluding remarks
12:15 Buffet lunch

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