The euro turns 20: happy birthday?
The euro is celebrating a big birthday after being available as cash since January 2002. Twenty years on, 340 million citizens in 19 EU countries use it every day, and in global transactions it is on a par with the US dollar. Although the initial scepticism has faded, there are still those who have their doubts about the single currency, as a look at today's commentaries confirms.
Single currency creates unity
There is no alternative to the euro, writes Handelsblatt:
“Abandoning the euro would far surpass the founding of the monetary community in terms of foolhardiness. It would be economic suicide. ... The euro critics are right, however, when they point out that the southern countries' difficulties in terms of competitiveness are mainly due to structural causes. Only reforms can help in the long term; money transfers can only alleviate the symptoms, at best. ... One thing is clear: Europe is fighting for its place in the world in the epochal conflict between the US and China. The most important prerequisite for this is its unity, and that includes not only, but above all, its monetary union.”
The euro has passed the stress test
Journalist Otmar Lahodynsky sees the euro as a huge success in a guest commentary for the Wiener Zeitung:
“Hardly any other element is so strongly associated with the European Union as the common currency. For younger people in particular, the euro has become part of their everyday lives, especially when travelling. In the EU's single market, the euro has facilitated and promoted cross-border trade. And it has also proven its worth internationally, quickly establishing itself as the world's most important reserve currency after the US dollar. ... The euro has survived all the crises so far and thus contributed significantly to the stability of the EU.”
The euro is now tried and tested, leaving ever fewer arguments for its critics , notes El Periódico de Catalunya:
“The existence of the euro has given rise to three salient developments: successive corrections forced by various crises, the most decisive of which was that of 2008, which pushed the new currency to its limits; the bailouts, which prevented the full-scale bankruptcy of several economies; and finally the creation of European funds, of which the 'Next Generation' programme is the most recent and ambitious. ... No doubt there is still a long way to go before the viability of the euro can be taken for granted. But it is also clear that the voices of those who predicted that the European currency would not be able to hold its own against the historical strength of currencies like the dollar and the pound have been silenced.”
This year could be tough
This is a not so happy 20th birthday, Irish Examiner points out:
“With mounting debt, shortages of skills and goods, a power crisis, green policies to fund, and potential military instability involving China and Russia, the euro, and the European Central Bank, may be about to experience a higher level of turbulence than when the new currency emerged, shiny and blinking, into the world. Seven other countries within the EU are still obliged to join the euro (only Denmark retains an opt-out), but at a convergence time of their choosing. With all the uncertainties lining up, that time is unlikely to be 2022.”