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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid