Reforms Are Now More Urgent Than Ever
But the monetary union makes everyone responsible for everyone else. Never mind the stability pact, the participants will have to vouch for each other in any case. There is a lot of opportunity for conflicts to arise, especially between those countries that do their homework and those that become problem cases. That is the flip side of the new coin. The better side of the Euro, the one with the stars: Because no one wants to foot the bill for others, there will be strict “social controls” in the Euro club. When one country gives the first sign of endangering the others it will be sternly reminded of its duties. There will be no easing of pressure to initiate reforms that give fresh strength to the Old Continent, bringing thousands of jobs to national economies eager for reform, such as those of Spain, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.
If things go well, the dollar will no longer be the only global currency, and Europe will regain its dynamism, just when the American economy seems to be losing its momentum.
That is the great contrast: The Euro gives Europe new strength outwardly and tension inwardly, among the European countries and within those countries that have to adapt the most, at the risk of more people joining the throngs of nationalists and European-integration opponents in the loser states. For there will be losers.
The success of the big project depends on whether enough reform-oriented countries come together in the Euro club and set the tone. When unemployment starts to decrease, the reputation of the European Union will grow. In an upswing, “construction site Europe” will be more pleasing to its builders, the Europeans. If successful, they will be more open to the precarious construction and renewal projects that will be on the agenda after the Euro is introduced.
Source: Roger de Weck, “Euro. Und nun? Das Drama von Brüssel und die Zukunft des Euro. Die Währungsunion bringt viel Streit und neue Stärke” [“The Euro. Now What? The Drama of Brussels and the Future of the Euro. The Monetary Union Brings Lots of Conflict and New Strength”], Die Zeit, no. 20, May 7, 1998.
Translation: Allison Brown