The Château at Schengen, with a view towards Germany. Photo taken from the vineyards that surround Schengen.

Clark University

May Term, 2006

Schengen, Luxembourg

May 14-June 10


Economics 005 From the Euro to a New Economic Superpower?



This course offers students the opportunity to gain a first-hand look at the private and public sides of the European experiment. For the past 50 years, the European Union has gradually created a unique experiment in bringing together diverse national economies. With the addition of 10 new countries in 2004, the European Union has 25 nations (with 20 languages). The Union includes nations and economies as diverse as former Soviet republics such as Estonia and Lithuania in the far north, to Greece and Cyprus in the far south, and include the core countries of western Europe such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. It is taught by John Brown, who can be reached at by email at


  • Barriers to trade have been eliminated

  • Almost all members enjoy the freedom to work throughout Europe.

  • Almost all members of the European Union are members of the EURO--a common currency

  • Citizens of many European countries have access to a strong social safety net, which includes a minimum standard of income and medical care for everyone.

This course carries 100-level economics credit at Clark and is a lower-level economics course at Holy Cross. It also satisfies the Global Perspective at Clark University. There is no prerequisite.

For more information on the May Term, including applying and the cost, please visit the May Term website. 

May Term Website

From the perspective of many Europeans, the example of the European Union offers an alternative to the approach followed by the United States in its management of a market economy. But, there are clouds on the horizon, as the recent riots in France and political struggles in Germany vividly illustrate. The European Union countries suffer from higher unemployment and slower economic growth than the United States. Europe stands in the way of a further lowering of barriers to trade in agricultural goods, as it instead protects its farmers. After reaching record highs against the dollar, the Euro has declined recently.



The Course


Set in the heart of Europe at Schengen, Luxembourg, this course explores both sides of the debate on European Experiment. Schengen is an ideal setting for exploring the achievements and challenges of European integration. It lies within a few hundred meters of three of the six original members of the European Union: Luxembourg, France and Germany. And it is the home of the Schengen agreement, which created a Europe without customs controls or passport checks within the European Union.

The course will use three main texts:

Neal and Barbezat, The Economics of the European Union and the Economies of Europe, 1998 provides the basic economic foundations.

T.R. Reid, The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy 2005 offers a general introduction and identifies the main issues.

Scheller, Hanspeter K., The European Central Bank: History, Role and Functions. (Provided to participants by the European Central Bank).


The course uses a combination of in-class lectures at the Château and full- and half-day field trips to important sites throughout western Europe. Here is an overview of the main topics and the field trips that are currently planned.


Week 1 Overview: Fifty years of bringing the economies of the Europe together

This discussion includes understanding important milestones, including the European Coal and Steel Community, the Treaty of Rome and the creation of the European Union with a Single Market. It also provides background on the basic principles of bringing together markets for goods and for labor

Field Trips

Walking Tour of European Sites in Luxembourg

All-day seminar at the European Commission Office in Luxembourg (Kirchberg)

Iron Mining Museum at Rumelange, Luxembourg


Week 2 Monetary and Financial integration

One of the most dramatic steps for bringing together the economies of the European Union is the creation of a new currency, the Euro. The Euro is now the official currency of the twelve countries that make up the Euro zone. The Euro is currently worth about $1.19.

One important challenge is also how to knit together the banking systems of so many countries. Our seminar at the ABBL will help us learn how that is done.

Field Trips

European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt is Germany's financial capital and a leading European city for business and finance.

Freitag-Gellert, Leading Mergers and Acquisitions firm in Germany (and meet Anna Godlewska Freitag, Clark University, 1995 (BA) and partner in Firm)

ABBL: Association of Luxembourg Bankers, Luxembourg City

Visit the Eurozoom Site for all coins and currency  of the Euro Area

Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Week 3 Social Union and Unemployment

This week is devoted to understanding the European social compact, also known as "Social Union." We will look at the positive features of the compact, which ensures a minimum living standard for citizens of many western European countries.

The compact also may contribute to the problem of persistant unemployment in many European countries, including France and Germany. We will explore this feature of the compact as well. Our field trips will take us to a steel mill that has faced the challenge of adjusting to new challenges, to the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, and to Brussels for a visit to Institutions of the European Union--and renowned cuisine!

Field Trips
We plan on visiting the Arcelor steel rolling mill in Belval, Luxembourg, which produces high-quality beams for construction.
We will also visit Brussels, including the Council of Europe (the seat of European heads of state) and the European Social and Economic Committee, where we will meet with an expert on social policy issues. The heart of historic Brussels, the Grand Place, is pictured to the right.
Week Four: Expansion of the Union to the South and East and the Challenge of the Global Economy
During the final week of the course, we explore the challenges of building a unified Europe of 25 countries, which include countries as wealthy as Luxembourg and as poor as Lithuania or Cyprus. The challenge is in many places. Workers from the new countries are seek employment in the older members from western Europe. The Union seeks out opportunities for much needed investment in the new countries. And all of the union faces increased competition from other countries (many of them developing) in agriculture and in textiles. Our field trips explore these challenges from several perspectives.
Field trips
European Investment Bank in Luxembourg City

Agro-Centrale in Merz, Luxembourg and visit to a farm (Guy Feder) and a winery.