Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Please, please, please can we join the Euro?

To Euro or not to Euro

One of the most annoying things about travelling to other countries in Europe is the need to change currency in advance or be face exorbitant handling fees when withdrawing money abroad. Now this may seem like a minor quibble, but this particular annoyance goes well beyond a personal pet peeve. Every time a friend or family member visits the UK from a eurozone country, they are annoyed. Every time exchange rates fluctuate so as to make British imports more expensive, people are annoyed.

Now I have always been pro-Euro, while the majority of people in Britain have always been anti-Euro. While times were good, it was virtually impossible to make convincing arguments for why Britain should join the euro; the pound is strong so we don't need anyone else. simple as that. However, with our global economy souring somewhat over the last year, the fragility of the pound has been laid bare. When markets began collapsing, investors and currency speculators dumped the pound en masse, seeing massive falls against the US dollar, Japanese yen and the euro. If Britain had been part of the eurozone, the sheer bulk of belonging to the world's largest currency (having surpassed the dollar in 2006/07) would have offered protection from such market turmoil, providing some much needed stability and perhaps also alleviating mild annoyances.

Now it seems the time has come again for this debate to rear its head. There have been recent murblings in the UK press, with Time Dowling of the Guardian suggesting Britain should join before it has to beg, as well as Jose Manuel Barosso (president of the European Commission) suggesting that Britain is closer than ever to making the leap into the Eurozone.

I sincerely hope Britain is readying itself to make this leap, as my mild annoyance could easily bubble over into something resembling nettled disgruntlement. And no one wants to see that!

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