Friday, February 02, 2007

EURO on the ru

An occasional Euro-briefing from Daniel Hannan

A distinct case of the wobbles

Enjoy your moment, all you apostles of the euro: this is as good as it’s doing to get. The accession of Slovenia last month brought membership of the single currency to 13, and I’m willing to bet that that’s as high as it’ll ever go.

A survey in the Financial Times this week showed that, throughout the euro-zone, large majorites hanker after their old currencies. The nostalgia is keenest at the Union’s core: nearly two thirds of Germans oppose the euro. The FT made no attempt to disguise its contempt for the doltishness of the common man. Its report began: “The euro-zone economy may be growing robustly, but its citizens appear not to expect significant financial gains as a result. They give scant credit to the eight-year-old euro for improving their national performances, an FT/Harris poll shows…”

But it’s not just the polls. Millions are simply opting out. A chunk of Bavaria is issuing its own money, while shops from Italy to the Netherlands have started to accept their former currencies, to the delight of their customers. Suddenly, the question is not who will be the next to join, but who will be the first to leave. In anticipation of a collapse, Germans are being advised to hang on to euro notes beginning with serial number “X” (which, apparently, indicates that they’re issued in Germany) and to ditch those beginning with “S” (issued in Italy).

Amazing how quickly something can go from being inevitable to being unthinkable. Eight years ago, most commentators assumed that the three recalcitrants – Britain, Sweden and Denmark – would have to join sooner or later. But guess which of the then 15 EU states have since enjoyed the highest growth rates? That’s right: Britain, Sweden and Denmark. As the Americans say, go figure.

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Daniel writes a regular column for the internet newspaper The First Post, entitled Ici Londres. You can find a version of this article online at

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