Brexit might just be the shock that saves the euro

Threatened by the possibility of a British exit from the European Union, politicians across the continent have rightfully defended the fragile politico-economic bloc from what could open the door for more countries to leave.

But, could such an upset potentially yield a brighter future for Europe, and more specifically, the countries that share the single currency that are still being propped up by billions of euros every month?

Unemployment in the euro zone remains stubbornly high at around 10 percent, nearly five years after the sovereign debt crisis. Youth unemployment in countries like Greece and Spain still makes for sobering reading. Growth is minimal, productivity and investment is low and many still point to a "zombie" banking sector that is still adjusting from the economic crash.

'Kicked the can down the road'

Policymakers have continuously "kicked the can down the road" and problems in Greece are still far from fixed. But, if the initial shock from a Brexit doesn't prove to be a domino effect, the euro zone could be open to what many European officials want: Greater political and fiscal integration.

Research carried out by economics professors Enrico Marelli and Marcello Signorelli in February, and published by the London School of Economics, underlined this need for a closer union. They concluded that the "fundamental flaws" of the European monetary union can only be overcome by a "drastic change in macroeconomic policies" which they believe should be a common budget created within the euro zone.

Could the euro zone form closer ties with a country like the United Kingdom barking orders from the sidelines?

Leave campaigners in the U.K. suggest that a Brexit could prove favorable to the rest of the 27 member states that belong to the bloc, not just the euro zone. Kate Hoey, a British Labour Party politician, said in an interview with CNBC on Friday that a leave vote by the U.K. could be a "catalyst" for change if the EU "is going to survive at all."

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Russia, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he didn't think the European Union would be in "danger of death" if Britain leaves.

'It's almost binary'

Anti-Euro protesters march through the streets during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece July 15, 2015.
Yiannis Kourtoglou | Reuters
Anti-Euro protesters march through the streets during an anti-austerity rally in Athens, Greece July 15, 2015.

"We'd continue the process of closer cooperation in Europe, if not of deepening the European Union, and mainly the economic and monetary union," he said, although adding that Britons were "better advised" not to vote leave.

Meanwhile, Stewart Robertson, senior economist at Aviva Investors, offers a word of warning. He believes that while a Brexit could be a catalyst for change, it could still divide the member states.

"This can go one of two ways ... it could make the EU stronger." he told CNBC last week.

"If there was a vote for Brexit, either it means the fracture lines within the EU project go deeper because it's been challenged as an institution, or it may be sort of a rallying call for the remainder of the EU to say 'right, we better get our house in order'."

"It's almost binary," he added.

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