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    ‘EU Won’t Make Any Difference as Long as There are National Divisions’ – Prof

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    Speaking during the annual address to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU has become an unavoidable force in world trade, adding that the bloc should be more independent with regard to defense and security.

    Sputnik discussed the EU's ability to enhance its role as a global power with Christian Schweiger, visiting professor and chair in comparative European governance systems at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany.

    Sputnik: At this point in time, how capable is the EU to enhance its role as a global power?

    Christian Schweiger: The UK leaving will, obviously, weaken the EU's international clout and we actually then have France as the main player in the area of defense and security left. Germany is rather reluctant to engage in defense and security and overall we have 27 different foreign and security policies on paper.

    Of course, the European Union keeps talking about a common foreign and security policy, common efforts on defense, but if you look closely they have very notable national divisions and it's likely that other countries could follow the UK towards exit, though I think it's rather unlikely at the moment but it could happen, so as long as the European Union doesn't overcome its national divisions, it won't actually make any sort of difference in this area.

    READ MORE: Highlights of Juncker's State of Union Speech at European Parliament

    Sputnik: Junker also spoke about the enhancement of the strategic role of the euro — what are your thoughts on that? A lot of other countries right now are seeking to challenge the dollar and, perhaps, you can talk about what your thoughts are on the outlook for the dollar as a global currency and for the euro?

    Christian Schweiger: I think the dollar and the euro are going to come under pressure from other competitors, particularly China. In the case of the euro, as we all know, it's still been rattled by effects of the sovereign debt crisis, and there has been some stabilization with Greece exiting the European security mechanism, but, on the other hand, we have instability in some countries, so the outlook for the euro is still quite unstable.

    In terms of the dollar, I would say that Trump's economic policy, the insecurity surrounding his stance on many issues such as free trade, particularly, bilateral trade with European partners, is, of course, in the long-term facing an uncertain future for the dollar as well, so I think the main beneficiary will be China as long as the West, in this case, America, and particularly the eurozone countries don't get their act together.

    The other thing is also we don't actually have a sort of desire amongst the outside EU countries that are also not in the eurozone like Poland, Hungary and Sweden to actually join in the near future, so we have a deepening division between those that are in the eurozone and those that are on the outside and are increasingly reluctant to join.

    READ MORE: UK Economy Picks Up Speed Ahead of Brexit With Solid Wage, GDP Growth

    Sputnik: Additionally, Juncker said that he favored the Brexit plan that was put forward by Mrs. May. How achievable is any agreement between Brussels and London now? The UK prime minister is really under find her country, there're 50 people who want to try to have a vote of no confidence, they want to oust her, it's looking very iffy, what are your thoughts on that?

    Christian Schweiger: I have observed the situation in the UK firsthand, I was living there for 17 years until last year, and for me the whole Brexit and the whole referendum issue was always sort of an attempt to resolve the internal warfare in the Conservative party on the European Union and we see that again now.

    As you just described, obviously, there's no common stance in the Conservative party, in the Conservative government, on how they should approach these negotiations and we're now very, very close to the two-year deadline with some extension possible with some transitional period, so I think it's very unlikely given the current domestic circumstances in the UK.

    READ MORE: May Doing Her Best, But Compromise With EU Will Be Seen as Selling Out — Tutor

    Boris Johnson is obviously preparing to oust Theresa May, while others like Jacob Rees-Mogg on the far right wing of the Conservative party is also positioning himself.

    There's little prospect for any deal simply because the European Union simply doesn't know what the UK actually wants. Juncker has said that the EU could potentially accept some of the proposals that Mrs. May has made, but her own party doesn't want to follow her, and even if Juncker and the European Union would say we agree to this plan, next week we could face a different prime minister, a different negotiation partner in London, and this is why I think what is going to happen is the UK is going to drift this deadline in March and it will simply drop out of the EU without any deal, obviously, with some transitional period where the full effects of the exit won't apply, but in two years' time, at the very latest, we will see a disastrous result for the UK as long as they don't turn things around and finally position themselves clearly and negotiate properly.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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