Reform holds the key to a stronger European Union

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Economist and international relations expert Professor Loukas Tsoukalis speaking at the Hawke EU Centre Annual Lecture.

Despite recent turbulence, there are new signs of hope for a reinvigorated European Union according to leading EU expert Professor Loukas Tsoukalis.

Speaking at the Hawke EU Centre Annual Lecture in October, economist and international relations expert, Prof Tsoukalis described the EU as highly resilient.

Heralded as Greece's “greatest living public intellectual”, Prof Tsoukalis is Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens and president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

He has studied and taught at universities across Europe including the University of Manchester, the College of Europe in Bruges, and the University of Oxford, where he completed his PhD. In 2016, he was Visiting Professor at the Kennedy School at Harvard University and among many publications on European international relations, he has recently published In Defence of Europe: Can the European Project Be Saved?

Prof Tsoukalis says the challenges the European Union has faced since the devastating Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, have come thick and fast – the decline of the value of the Euro, the burgeoning refugee crisis, and most recently the Brexit vote in the UK.

Despite these challenges, he says fear of European nations having to go it alone and the underlying resilience of the union have brought new hope.

“The extraordinary political success of pro-Europe French President Emmanuel Macron, demonstrates a new era of optimism surrounding the European project,” he says.

“It will be essential that this pro-EU sentiment materialises into European reform to strengthen the Union.

“Now what we need is to see new agreements reached between France and Germany, the de facto leaders of the EU, in the post Brexit environment.

“Only through such reforms, can the European project continue to provide a source of peace, democracy, and rising living standards.”

UniSA’s Hawke EU Centre lecture was attended by more than 300 people including the Consul General for Greece and representatives of the State Government.

You can listen to Prof Tsoukalis give a talk on the same topic on ABC’s Big Ideas radio program.

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