Friday, February 18, 2005

Euro Fun Anymore!

In the International Herald Tribune, Giles Merritt gives us the following:
…before taking Bush to task over what many see as American irresponsibility, the EU leaders who will be meeting him here next week should take a cool look at Europe's economic policy failings. They have little to crow about. From new jobs to new patents, from economic growth to industrial productivity, the United States continues to set a pace that Europe can't keep up with.

… At the heart of Europe's economic shortcomings lies the euro, which since its introduction in January 2002 has become a source of European pride yet also of growing alarm. The euro has gained the illusion of strength because when measured against the weakening dollar it is now worth 30 percent more than three years ago. That has disguised the in-built vulnerability of the euro that some analysts believe is calling into question its long-term survival.

The euro is rapidly acquiring the features of a politically unstable currency.

Bush is sure to be quizzed in Brussels on U.S. fiscal goals during his second term, and his EU questioners will no doubt warn him against the risk of the dollar crashing if the deficits are not checked.

He should feel free to ask them in return if the eurozone governments have a strategy not just for reining back on their pact-busting levels of debt, but for moving their public finances into surplus.

Meanwhile, Thomas Fuller weighs in with this:
Three years after the introduction of euro notes and coins, residents of Europe's smaller countries have been far more nimble in adapting to the single currency than people living in France, Germany and Italy, according to a survey released by the European Commission …

Over all, 49 percent of respondents in the 12 countries that use the euro said the currency causes them some degree of difficulty, a similar result to a poll released last year. …

Even EU officials have difficulty sometimes. "For large figures, probably the old currency still makes more sense to know what you're talking about," said a high-ranking official, who admits to making the conversions in his head. …

For some Europeans the euro changeover feels like yesterday.

… In other findings of the poll:

… Very few Europeans understand or know about the growth and stability pact, the rules that underpin the euro. Only 19 percent of respondents said they had heard of it and understood it while 45 percent said they had never heard of it.

The rest said they had heard about it but didn't know what it was about.

And don't forget:

Listen! Just unify Europe under a common currency and a common organization and you will see that it will bring common benefits to all while making war within Europe something unimaginable

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