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In 2013, possibilities for stability from Somalia to South China Sea

Policymakers in many of the world's hot spots have a common New Year's wish: for unity to usher in and consolidate political and economic stability.

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Students read Koranic verses at a madrasa, or Koranic school, in Dhusamareeb, central Somalia, December 16.

Feisal Omar/Reuters

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The international news of any year is a disparate affair, a global chronicle of courage, calamity, and close calls. The interconnectedness of events is not always clear.

But looking ahead to 2013, whether in Syria, South America, or the South China Sea, policymakers have a common New Year's wish: for unity to usher in and consolidate political and economic stability.

Europe turns toward integration

After another year in the depths of a debt crisis that has tested the viability of the European Union, leaders made a major step forward at the end of the year: agreeing to give the European Central Bank oversight of the biggest banks in the Union.

Skeptics dismiss the agreement as a watered-down initiative of common-denominator compromises and delays. But it paves the way for an eventual banking union, and caps off a year of expressed commitments to deeper integration.

"The decision of European heads of state to create a banking union and a fiscal union still needs to be implemented. But that was a genuine game changer in a sense," says Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Brussels. "It is by no means perfect and is not seen in action yet; but if this comes, that will create momentum for more political integration."

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