News / Europe

Europeans Have Deep Doubts About Euro

The Athens Acropolis at sunset on a cloudy day, November 15, 2011.
The Athens Acropolis at sunset on a cloudy day, November 15, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Bryant

As Europe grapples with its financial crisis, ambivalence is growing among many Europeans about the region's common currency.

After choosing a common anthem - Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" - the European Union introduced another symbol to draw its members closer - a common currency. Launched a decade ago, the euro is now used by 17 European nations, making banking and travel easier for many of their citizens.

Today, though, the euro is a symbol of division. Sovereign debt and banking problems that began in Greece have spread to other eurozone countries, sparking protests and bringing down several governments - most recently Italy's.

Even in Brussels, the administrative heart of the European Union, citizens like George Missikos are thinking twice about the European currency.

Missikos believes life was cheaper before the euro. With the old Belgian franc, Belgians could spend and still have money in their pockets. Today, he said, they spend, and their pockets are empty.

In neighboring Netherlands, 49-year-old Amsterdam native Ans van Hilten has mixed feelings about the euro.

"It's easy when you go on holidays - Spain, Germany - we pay with the same money. Then we know how much it costs. We had the Dutch money, the florin. This is more expensive, the euro. Most people want to go back [to the florin]. But I think when we go back, it's not the same."

But for some countries - notably Greece - the euro's days may be limited. Polls show many Greeks still support the euro. Eurozone leaders argue it is essential the eurozone remain intact. But arguments are also growing that exiting the eurozone might be the best option for Athens.

Analyst Simon Tilford, chief economist for the Center for European Reform, said such a scenario cannot be ruled out.

"If a country were to opt to leave the eurozone, the rest of the eurozone would have to make sure that process was a relatively controlled one… the problem with that is the smoother the transition into non-euro status, the greater the attractiveness of that option for other eurozone economies. And therefore, it risks a sort of knock-on effect, a chain effect," said Tilford.

But Philippe Moreau Defarges, of the Paris-based French Institute for International Affairs, predicts the eurozone will remain intact.

"I think today, the euro is a lifeboat. Of course, everybody wants to leave, everybody would like not to be in this lifeboat. But the euro is the only lifeboat," said Defarges.

Austerity measures enacted by European governments are sharpening ambivalence about the euro - and about the eurozone as a whole. That is the case in France, where recent budget cuts sent thousands of people to the streets in protest.

But 70-year-old retiree Henri Souques, who joined demonstrations in Paris, said the euro should not be blamed for Europe's problems.

Souques said with a common market, Europe needs a common currency. The euro, he said, is not a handicap.


You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More