Emory Report
November 15, 2004
Volume 57, Number 12


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November 15, 2004
EU's Bolkestein to visit for International Education Week

Lailee Mendelson is communications coordinator for the office on international affairs

During this year’s International Education Week, Nov. 15–19, the Halle Institute for Global Learning will welcome Distinguished Fellow Frits Bolkestein, European Union (EU) commissioner responsible for the internal market, taxation and customs union issues.

The union’s expansion last May to include 10 new member states brings the number of EU consumers to nearly 450 million. Bolkestein’s portfolio, which includes market restrictions and customs in this powerful economic zone, makes him one of the most important figures in EU politics today.

Bolkestein’s visit will kick off Emory’s International Education Week, meant to celebrate the importance of global learning and exchange. On Monday, Nov. 15, at 4:15 p.m. in 205 White Hall, he will address questions in a public conversation on “The Geopolitics of the European Union,” moderated by Vice Provost for International Affairs Holli Semetko.

An outspoken and highly visible politician, the Netherlands’ Bolkestein has led several efforts to enforce European single-market regulations. In the past year, he butted heads with large EU member states Germany and France, taking them before the European Court of Justice for flouting euro stability rules after those nations allowed their budget deficits to exceed the agreed-upon ceiling of 3 percent of their GDPs. Bolkestein also has been at the center of major trans-Atlantic issues in recent years, including the U.S. refusal to recognize accounting standards commonly adhered to in Europe, a battle which last March found him caricatured in The Wall Street Journal arm-wrestling the chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board.

More recently, Bolkestein’s coverage in the press has focused on his heated opposition to opening EU membership talks with Turkey. He has been quoted in The Economist as saying that uncontrolled immigration of Turkish citizens into Europe would mean that the 1683 halting of Turkish troops at the gates of Vienna would have been in vain.

Bolkestein has held many important positions during his 30-year career in politics. He became a member of the Dutch Parliament in 1978 and has served as minister for foreign trade (1982–86), minister of defense (1988–89) and leader of the Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) from 1990–98.

Prior to entering politics, Bolkestein studied mathematics and physics at the University of Oregon and the Universiteit van Amsterdam. He earned his master’s in philosophy in Amsterdam and in law in Leiden. He worked for the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies for 16 years, living and working in East Africa, Central America, Indonesia, London and Paris, before leaving to begin a career in politics.

Bolkestein’s visit to Emory will include several presentations to faculty and students, class visits, and private discussions with graduate students, faculty and University administrators. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 8:30–9:45 a.m. in 110 White Hall, Bolkestein will visit an open session of Visiting Associate Professor Christian Tuschhoff’s “Introduction to Comparative Politics” class to discuss EU politics and current political issues in Europe.

For more information on any of these events, contact the Halle Institute at 404-727-7504.