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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid