Top European Economist Cites Need for Strong Asian Leadership

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Renowned European economist and European Commission senior advisor Klaus Regling has underscored the need for a strong leadership in Asia that will push for regional integration similar to the European Union (EU).Regling presented "The Euro After 10 years: Achievements, Challenges and Implications for Asia" at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Pasig City on Thursday as part of ADB and the Asia - Europe Foundation's (ASEF) Seminar Series on Regional Economic Integration."In general, unlike Europe where there are strong leaders who pushed for the integration project, I don't see the determination of the Asian leaders," Regling said during an interview with reporters."It's not very high in the list of their priorities. I understand that every government has something to work about in their own countries," he added.Regling said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can start its regional integration with a small group just like how they did it in Europe. He said the "real steps need to be taken by consensus" and may be initiated by ASEAN's advanced countries like Singapore and Malaysia. ASEAN dialogue partners may also want to help push for the regional integration project."You need political will to drive the process and economic input to make the whole [regional integration] project viable," he said. …