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Sunday, 30 March, 2003, 19:38 GMT 20:38 UK
Read your comments
Evan's euro adventure was first broadcast on BBC Two on Sunday, 30 March, 2003 at 1915 GMT, and repeated on Sunday 8 June, 2003 at 1915 BST, BBC Two.
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The whole euro debate revolves around self-interest. The British public are being duped by both sides... the pro-euro camp and the euro-sceptic camp are fully engaged in making sure their self-interest prevails over what is best for the United Kingdom and its people as a whole.
The time has come for the people of Britain to ask the simple question, "What is best for me?" We should be asking which route will provide... better social conditions, better working rights, more job security, better schools, better hospitals, higher salaries, better pension rights, more affordable housing, cheaper goods and services, better transport.
Forget the five economic tests and the issues over sovereignty... did anyone worry about the Queen's head when the Royal Mail was sold off? Today's politicians, once in office, appear to serve only their paymasters and party followers, quickly forgetting the electorate and the manifesto promises.
Hugh McAlinden, Scotland
Evan's analysis of this being a choice of "one risk or another" is the best view I've heard on the euro. It is a political decision pure and simple. Just ask the other participants. It's about where our heart lies and it's pretty cold in the mid-Atlantic. We are Europeans. The rest of the EC would welcome us with open arms and needs our commitment. For me there is no argument. We join and make it work.
As far as the euro is concerned, I wish the government would just hold a referendum to find out what the public wants and then, based on the result, they could move forward either to get us ready for the euro, or deal with not adopting the euro, and get rid of the uncertainty about it.
Regardless of the Chancellor's five tests, the PM's keenness to join (or not) or Evan's excellent analysis, the decision to join the euro will be decided for all of us on England's emotional state about the passing of Empire and the "scrapping" of the pound, fired up by the europhobic press. In the end, we will join, but I predict this will be done with bad grace, too late and at a time of maximum disadvantage for the British economy. Looking at Ireland, perhaps the best argument for Scottish independence would be we could get the euro and other EU benefits without having to wait for the Sassenachs to realise that the US is one hundred times as far away as the coast of continental Europe!
In the end it is about where our future lies. Since we're too small to continue it alone - then we have to choose either the US or Europe. For me, our future lies at the heart of Europe and the euro will demonstrate this.
One further test should be added to Gordon Brown's infamous "five tests". Are we, as a British independent state, prepared to surrender our sovereignty? That is the only real test of any significance and it is the one test that the British Government is unwilling to put to the British people. It is time a referendum was held on our continuing membership of the EU, never mind joining the euro.
Rupert Stubbs, UK
Although technically inside Europe, the UK has remained "mentally" outside.
Other European countries have embraced the EU and benefited hugely from it. While we remain indifferent we will always be seen as outsiders.
One of the arguments against the Europe is the setting of exchange rates by the CEB instead of the Bank of England. The economic conditions in Wales are very different from the South East, as is the North of England, but we still have our economic decisions made in London.
The exchange rate between the pound and the euro is quite favourable at the moment. Now is the time to go in!!
I'm an expat living and working in Sweden for an English company. The Swedish arm pays the English company with Krona, which is exchanged to pounds, the English company then changes it back again to send it to me as my salary, apart from exchange rate fluctuations and the cost for the bank to do the exchange... To make matters worse, I travel to Germany for business (euros)... please, please, give me the euro. I don't pretend to understand the larger issues for the government but for my small world it would be so much simpler.
What many seem not to realize is that the question is no longer whether we should create a single currency, but rather now that one exists can we or should we resist joining it. Eventually it may be the case that we are so influenced by our giant neighbour that any feeling of economic independence we retain will be illusory; in the shorter term, however, it would be unwise to surrender control of our interest rates and adopt the one-size-fits-all approach of the euro zone. The advantages of a single currency would benefit us little were our economy to be so damaged by inappropriate interest rates that the average person had little to spend in whatever currency.
Generally speaking, as a Europhile, I see the European Union as being about more than "the price of butter", but the question of the single currency is such a grey area for the UK that it cannot be seen as an article of faith even for those committed to the European vision.
People keep talking about this "European single market" as a reason for joining with Europe and the euro, but I fail to see the overriding benefit of this.
There is more than just Europe as a market. There are also trade boundaries (barriers if you like) with the Americas, Australasia, South East Asia, Middle and Far Easts. How does changing one of these boundaries make so much difference when compared to all the rest?
The same can be said of the euro. Removing the need to factor exchange rate variations into trade calculations for one currency does not do the same for all the rest.
The adoption of a single currency would only seem to make sense if we were to be adopting a single global currency, and that isn't going to happen, is it?
So... again, why all the fuss? We have a strong economy, a strong currency, we trade with more than just Europe, why all this argument?
I am so tired of the blind leading the blind into Europe. The EU is a non-democratic, money-eating monster. I have travelled Europe extensively and the two richest counties are Norway and Switzerland. Both are NOT in the EU or Euro. Live and let live but the EU or Euro is not for me. I love being a little Englander. Please Blaar (sorry Blair), please call a vote on the euro so we can tell you what we all think of the EU (not a lot). This country will not be run by a Franco-German alliance with little Belgium in tow.
Perhaps instead of waiting for the "famous five" tests to be passed then putting it to the vote, we could do it the other way around. I'd be much happier if we could settle the political aspect first, then if we had decided to join we could then leave the timing of entry to the economists. We would then be moving forward with greater certainty, and could focus our political attention onto other issues.
I fear Britain is going to repeat its previous errors. We will never drive Europe's agenda as we always hold back from its major ventures. The government should take a risk, commit to the euro and help reform the EU. If the government takes the lead public opinion would eventually see the benefits of full engagement with other European nations. They want to stay as French, German, Portuguese after all and have rich cultures of their own. A dilution of identity/sovereignty is the not the real issue here...
Where's the 6th economic test? The one which states the financial and employment impact to the UK of NOT joining the euro? I rarely agree with Mr Mandleson but this was a very valid point. We are not competitive with other European countries and our trade with other euro states has decreased while that of Germany and France increased dramatically. We cling, once again, to history and fail to look to the future.
The euro would take away from us our ability to determine our own political and economic future. I certainly did not expect this when we joined the EEC. I think it has come as a huge surprise to most other people in the UK as well. We have a flexible economy which is much closer to that of the USA than it is to France or Germany. Joining the euro could import serious problems for us. What would be the point of embarking on the "Titanic", just so that we could be in a good position to give orders while it sinks?
I don't think the Brits are ready to change their currency as that would require a change of people's minds - that is a more pro-European attitude and not so 'insular' attitudes...Let them stay as that are and wish them the best.
If I were a European, which I am not, I would want to wait a while before ditching the Pound. What is the rush? Wait and see what happens to Europe's cosy prosperity after Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and the other EU's prospective new members join.
East Europeans will raise the EU's population by one quarter, but increase economic output by a mere 4%. Labour markets will be strained by millions of new workers who earn 20% of an UK worker.
America's 50 states are not like the European countries that form the Euro zone. While on paper these 50 states appear as nations they are more like provinces that all use a uniform legal system (except Louisiana for historical reasons) under the US constitution. They do not have individual economic cycles like those of a the various EMU countries. To make a comparison between these two is like comparing apples to oranges.
Now if the nations of the euro zone were ready to give up all sovereignty and submit to a powerful federal structure than perhaps that comparison would work but not as it currently is. American states do not have state level policies that diverge that much from other states, unlike European nations.
Every EU nation is foreign to another, it's about time that British people looked at it from a different angle instead of from their armchairs. If anything, the majority of EU business is in English, as well as the EU political institutions (and most EU debate), so we're in a far better position than most.
We all know that one day we will be using the Euro, and very likely that children being born in the UK now will know nothing but the Euro. We might as well get in towards the start, and have some influence before the new countries join. What would be worse than entering alongside Poland, Estonia and Latvia?
The Euro would certainly be preferable to the US dollar.
Does Britain have a better quality of life than its European counterparts? Are we smarter/better than our neighbours? Are we content to watch stupid Americans rule the roost (or foul the nest) while the potential power of a unified Europe is frustrated by British isolationism? Then join the Euro and help the world!
Ben Turner, England
The pro-Euro argument is essentially - if we stay out we lose out. The anti-Euro argument is essentially - stay out because once we are in we can never leave and this may have a damaging effect on the UK economy.
I am more in favour of the anti-campaign simply because if we were in the Euro it would mean being financially linked to countries such as Portugal or Italy who are seeking to alter the Stability Pact. Remember the ERM fiasco - "Black Wednesday".
We (the UK) should not join. The only advantage was to ease accountancy and financial decisions for multinationals. Now that this has been considerably simplified (one currency instead of 12) there is no valid reason to join. There is one valid reason not to join though: Brussels, through the ECB, will have much more muscle in imposing German-French social laws and tax reforms when they control our interest rates.
I believe the people of Britain could gain much from membership of the Euro. As a Dutchman living in Britain working for a primarily French company I see the impact of the euro on jobs. The euro would make it easier to do business in the UK, which has to be good for those working here too.
Great programme. Of course it only covered the economics, and not the politics or nationality issues. There are lots of remarks here that show that there is a lack of debate in the UK. It seems that there's little difference between the Bank of England and the ECB. As for what's best for the UK - the EU seems more interested in regions than countries. Joining the euro might be best for the less well off parts of the UK than it is for parts of the South East of England - and that's no bad thing!
The pro-Euro argument of providing the economic medicine of limits on borrowing and interest rates is proffered, but the medicine could easily prove worse than the disease if the medicine is designed for someone else with a different ailment.
Why take the risk?? We have access to the single market, membership of the euro is not required, the standardisation of goods etc, give the UK all benefits required.
The economic arguments pale into insignificance against the overwhelming loss of our sovereignty. The economic arguments are all against it too!
The programme was very informative, especially for a young person like me. I hope I will be able to vote on whether to join the Euro soon: it is best for our future and the economy. I want a future with like minded nations, and that tends to be those within Europe, not the US.
In my opinion Evan Davis made a lot of good points, but his conclusion that the choice came down to risks was flawed.
The choice for or against isn't about which particular economic model the UK ends up adopting. The question is a far wider one about whether the UK sees its future as a nation as part of the European partnership of nations, or whether it tries to work with the US on the other side of the Atlantic.
Whether it's the Euro, the EU or whatever, this country has always dithered on such important issues. During the great process that brought about the Common Market, Britain tried to pour cold water on the idea of a Common Market with a common agenda on trade. Let us not forget that is perhaps the main reason why Western Europe has enjoyed peace and security for so long. I believe the Euro will only further enhance this process with all members enjoying more benefits.
Ralph Lovesy, UK
Joining the Euro has put up the cost of living three-fold. Now it's three Euros (£2 in UK money) for a bag of chips. In the UK a bag of chips is £1 so be prepared to pay two when you change to Euro!
Travelling in Europe I thoroughly enjoy the single currency! No more rip-offs at the Exchange Bureaux. As for the interest rates I believe home owners/buyers in the UK would like to have the lower interest rates in the Euro zone. The high unemployment in Germany is a result of the reunification. It's the 20%-25% unemployment in parts of East-Germany that pushes the overall unemployment to 12%.
Each country still has measures to control their economy and Germany's government should wake up and make the labour laws more flexible. Nobody hires new employees because it's so hard to lay-off when times get rough. A lot of the problems that countries like Germany, Greece or Portugal have now existed before the single currency was introduced!
Most interesting was the fact that the cost of travelling on the Athens Metro had fallen since the introduction of the Euro. A triumph for the Euro perhaps? Of course what the programme did fail to mention is that most of the Athens Metro was actually paid for by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) money in the first place.
Would MEPs want it to be a sign of rising prices? I think not!!
The vibrant UK economy consistently outperforms that of the sluggish Euro zone. We enjoy higher growth, lower unemployment, lower taxation and what's more, our public spending is not spiralling out of control. Do we really want to abandon all this to join the latest grand scheme of the ruling elite of Old Europe?
Evan Davis says do not blame the Euro for Germany's ills but he also says that the Euro interest rate is not the appropriate one for Germany, so the Euro is partly to blame.
Also because Germany is in the Euro it cannot devalue its currency and it cannot increase government spending because of the Stability Pact. So Germany would be much better off if it had its own currency.
What has the fact of Virgin mega-stores in France got to do with the Euro? We can buy American cars in England does that make us American? France doesn't stick to the free-market rules - just look at British Beef - they cover up their mad cow disease and ban our beef - very open market. France gives subsidies to Air France - very fair. Every country runs on different economic cycles which needs controlling by their own interest rates therefore as we can see with Germany the euro won't work.
One way to prove if the UK is ready or not is to lower our interest rates to that of the ECB. Clearly the BoE doesn't think we're ready since our rates are so much higher. Surely that is the key test.
Chris Sheldrake, England
Evan's Euro Adventure, was a really good program - Thanks. Told me lots I did not know about Economics in Europe in an interesting way. I'd like to see more programmes like this and fewer clone programs on moving house, decorating and soaps.
I enjoyed the programme but I did find it rather one sided. I am not speaking as someone who necessarily wants to join the euro but most of the Euro-sceptic arguments that were raised in the programme had perfectly valid counter arguments which weren't even touched on.
Christopher Boulle, The Netherlands
We drive on a different side to the rest of Europe, so why not have different currency. We always have been different - why change now, it makes life much easier for all being different. It's like when you have a family gathering; you always get one who wants a coffee when you just made a pot of tea!
The UK's current state on the Euro is untenable. It is impossible to be a credible member state of the EU and, at the same time, fail to be party to a central plank of its existence. It would be more honest of anti-Euro supporters to advocate complete withdrawal from the Union. What role would then remain for the UK is another question.
John Williams, Albania
When will we all stop pretending that this is an economics-only question? There is no honest debate about giving away control of our economic policy to people that we cannot vote out if they mess up our finances. Holding these people to account is key and, until this is addressed on a European level, the economic arguments should come second to the political accountability question. That is why the decision should be deferred until the structure of EMU has been fixed. Once we're in, it's too late, we should campaign for these reforms as a price for our entry. Without them we should stay out.
It's not the "coinage". It's the fact that people of a different culture with different aims languages and beliefs, people whom our country has had to fight or to fight for will be running our country; this is not a good thing.
George Pasmore, Winchester
I would like to congratulate you on an excellent and well presented programme on the Euro. It is an almost impossible issue to present in a factual and impartial manner, without turning off those without economics degrees. However, you seem to have done it this evening, with an informed and intelligent debate that was about as politically impartial as it would be possible to be. It succeeded in reaching a conclusion without telling people what to think. I am sure your programme will have moved the debate forward for all those who saw it. A worthy use of the license fee.
Truth or not, the UK has been one of the countries that started the EU, so why defy it now, smell the coffee and wake up, your politicians are working for their own interest only
Michael Rudd, UK
That was a really interesting programme, gentle economics - my 15 year old and I thoroughly enjoyed it although we do wish you would leave the voices in for our European friends and just have subtitles. This is the first time I have felt moved to contact anyone after a programme - it was so enjoyable.
The Euro is not about economics but is a political decision. Do we want to run our own country or do we want to leave decisions to an undemocratic central power over which we have no control? No thanks!
Adrian Warrick, UK
At the cheese store in Toulouse no mention of Stilton, cheddar etc. my daughter at university in Poitiers tells me that non French goods are found on the "ethnic" counter! Key issue - at what exchange would we join the euro? If too high like last time (the ERM) we shall face another "black" period only this time we may not be able to withdraw. Forget the five tests; tell us the exchange rate that will control our lives for ever, Gordon.
How is it possible for the fatuous question about the euro "Is the Euro working" to be made on such a serious matter? Have I perhaps missed something that our continental neighbours have access to and the ability to use any other currency now? Also at the end of the programme I believe the suggestion made was (on the Pro side of the argument) that not being a member of the euro, in some way reduced and or inhibited our trading status in the EU. What utter tosh.....
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