Until a couple of years ago, any suggestion that the great experiment of European Monetary Union was in trouble met with a hostile response, but since then the problem has become more obvious and much has been written on it in the daily and weekly press. The 10th anniversary of the introduction of the currency and an apparent period of relative calm seems an excellent opportunity to stand back and look at the broader context. Where are we now, how did we get there and where do we go from here?

European Monetary Union (not an obvious "optimum currency area") was launched with fatal design faults: the long awaited, but disappointing, 1995 Green Paper [2] completely failed to address the real economic problems which those of us looking sympathetically but critically at the project had identified. The rules adopted made the change "irreversible" with no provision for countries to leave, or be expelled from, the union and no mechanism for dealing with asymmetric shocks. Creating the euro in such an inflexible form was a disaster waiting to happen, but had believed and hoped that, given the political will behind the project, the need for changes would be recognised and acted on before it was too late. This has not happened and the taxpayer’s money has been thrown at a futile attempt to “save the euro”, when the real problem is to prevent a financial catastrophe. Whether this was deliberate is a matter for future political historians but Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver (CPS September 2011) think they were `Guilty Men’.

Read this article. [3]