Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, describes the history, context, and current challenges of European integration for CFR Model Diplomacy’s “Economic Crisis in Europe” case study. Model Diplomacy ( is a free multimedia simulation program that engages students through role-play to understand the challenges of shaping U.S. foreign policy in an interconnected world.

Today’s European Union (EU), Mallaby notes, comprises twenty-eight countries and is home to some five hundred million people. In addition, nineteen of these countries use a common currency, the euro. Mallaby explains how this integration began after World War II with efforts to prevent renewed conflict. European countries later built a common market for trade, which has fueled the continent’s prosperity.

Mallaby describes the EU’s achievements—peace and general prosperity—while noting some of its challenges, such as currency integration. This provides the backdrop for the economic crisis that has afflicted many European countries in recent years. Labor market regulation is another policy challenge, Mallaby explains. He concludes by noting the high stakes of European economic success for the United States, which not only trades with Europe but also counts European countries among its most important partners in addressing international challenges.

Instructors interested in exploring “Economic Crisis in Europe” for their classrooms can visit the Model Diplomacy case profile.

For more educational resources from the Council on Foreign Relations, visit CFR Campus at


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