Famed economist Nouriel Roubini warned Friday that a split between the U.K. and the European Union could accelerate a wave of independence movements across the continent, laying the groundwork for the end of the EU.
“It would create a huge amount of uncertainty, about not just Britain but the future of the European Union,” Roubini said of a British exit, or Brexit, from the bloc. If Britons vote to leave the EU in the public referendum scheduled for June, Roubini told Bloomberg, “you could have the beginning of the end of the European Union.”
Roubini, who earned the moniker Dr. Doom for his accurate prediction of the 2008 financial crisis, said a Brexit would catalyze other breakaway movements across Europe. Scottish separatists would gain momentum in their desire to leave the U.K., while the Catalan independence movement would press harder to split from Spain, the New York University economist predicted. A long-feared Greek exit, or Grexit, could soon follow.
But even less restive states could be spurred to action, Roubini said, including nations like Sweden that are members of the EU but do not participate in the eurozone monetary union.
Roubini’s warning echoes that of numerous world leaders and economists. “We don’t have a plan B, we have a plan A,” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU’s top governing body, said in February. “Britain will stay in the European Union as a constructive and active member of the Union.”
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, has indicated that even though the U.K. doesn’t use the euro, the country’s exit could destabilize the eurozone. A Brexit “would have implications of a systemic nature, and these would not be positive for the European monetary union,” Draghi said earlier this year.
Economists have sounded similar alarms for the U.K. itself. Nine out of 10 economists at British universities agreed that a split with the EU would stir market uncertainty and economic risks, a survey conducted by the London School of Economics found.
Despite the gloomy warnings, the British populace remains roughly split on the prospect of a Brexit. In the latest average of polls taken by the Financial Times, 43 percent of Britons want to remain in the EU, vs. 41 percent siding with a Brexit.