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The EU’s Risks and Opportunities Ahead: Ukraine, Scotland and Recovery in the Eurozone

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26 Aug The EU’s Risks and Opportunities Ahead: Ukraine, Scotland and Recovery in the Eurozone

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The European Union (EU) looks set for a challenging but nevertheless promising season ahead, said Mr Jørgen Ørstrøm Møller, visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

The former Danish ambassador to Singapore recently delivered a public lecture on the EU’s future opportunities and challenges, co-organised by the EU Centre in Singapore and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

On the bright side, EU’s debt-to-GDP does not look too bad in comparison to the United States and Japan, said Mr Møller, who worked on European integration issues for 26 years in the Danish diplomatic service. In the first place, the 2008 financial meltdown was a global debt crisis that originated in the US, not in the EU, he noted.

While many remain sceptical towards the euro, Mr Møller said it was the single currency that saved the 28-nation bloc from competitive depreciation, which could have led to a global depression.

He also added that a political union was not a necessary prerequisite to monetary union in Europe. The continent has had currency unions from as early as the late nineteenth century. But Mr Møller did raise one pertinent risk with the current architecture of euro. Some “bad boys” in the bloc, for instance, are still allowed to borrow from global capital market at the same rate as their more financially disciplined counterparts, and this should warrant a revision, he said.

The EU, however, is unlikely to break up as a result of the debt crisis, said Mr Møller. Rather, the growing trend among what he calls the “artificial” nation-states in Europe towards secession could be more worrying. The Scottish independence referendum will be held next month, although the Scottish are unlikely to say ‘yay’ to independence this time. There is also a chance that the United Kingdom may vote to leave the EU in the 2017 referendum, which the Conservative government has promised. Should that happen, Scotland may likely broach the topic of independence again.

Read more about the lecture here. (EU Centre in Singapore website)