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Monday, 26 February, 2001, 11:18 GMT
The euro: What do you think?
A majority of UK voters say they don't know enough to make a proper decision about whether Britain should adopt the single European currency.
They were asked in a BBC News Online poll about the prospect of voting in a referendum on the single currency, the euro. Only 38% said they knew enough at the moment to make an informed decision, compared with 60% who said they did not.
Critics of the euro say that joining up would strip the UK parliament of its sovereignty - while pro-euro commentators say that the UK will lose out if we don't join up soon. There has been speculation that a referendum on the issue could be held as early as this autumn.
Do you think the UK should join the euro? Do you think you know enough to make a decision? What are your main concerns about Europe and the euro?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
One of the main arguments against the Euro is that we will lose control of the ability to set interest rates and that no single rate can suit all of Europe. I live in the north east of England, an area which has suffered directly from the Bank of England's "Losses in manufacturing in the North are a price worth paying for low inflation in the South" policy. To me, the interest rates of the euro are far more in line with the needs of my local economy than the stirling rates are. The pound is only useful if you want to continue gearing the UK economy towards the needs of the South East and the City. Roll on the euro and a bit of fairness for a change.
The unelected EU commission has been issuing vast numbers of edicts affecting small businesses with the force of law. We are massive net contributors to the EU's coffers. The Common Agricultural Policy is economic madness and will never be reformed. Where is the benefit of our EU membership?
And then there's defence. France has diplomatically opposed British interests in all but one sphere of military action over the last 30 years. How can we contemplate leaving Nato and diverting our valuable army to French/EU control? We must be mad, literally mad, to contemplate EMU entry in the light of all that has already gone. Not being in the EU hasn't hurt the Norwegians, the Japanese or the Swiss.
I don't think most intelligent people care whether they spend pounds or euros. It doesn't really matter. There seem to be lots of good long-term reasons for joining the euro and I would be in favour if it wasn't for one major concern. The fact that there is one interest rate for the whole of the eurozone (controlled by a small number of people) with all of the inflexibility that brings scares me.
If something goes wrong is a couple of countries then the whole thing could collapse into an absolute disaster.
If we stopped funding Europe to such an obscene degree the money saved would be the equivalent of approximately 4p on the basic rate of tax. With this money our hospitals and schools could be financed, our pensioners could have a better standard of living and taxes would not need to go up to pay for it. Entry is not inevitable, despite what the rabidly pro-Europe camp likes to tell us. The economics of a single interest rate fitting the whole of our country are clearly spurious, so to even consider a single interest rate being appropriate for an entire bloc of countries is nothing short of outrageous.
Increasingly we see France and Germany siding with Russia (Star Wars/Iraq etc) whereas our inclination has always been to side with the US. We are far more like the US and ever less like Europe, so to tie ourselves to countries who make no secret of their dislike of our largest ally would be ridiculous. If we maintain our current position, Europe wants to invest here for our lower business costs and the outside world wants to invest as a way of getting into the European market without the oppressive social costs of doing business. We simply don't need to sign away our advantages.
Mo Godfrey, UK
To Malcolm Franke, England - are you saying that we can't ever have a relationship with the US because of its high Spanish speaking population? If so then you obviously haven't noticed that not all European countries share our mother tongue either.
I'd say Britain would be much better placed in a trading federation with the States. NAFTA is less bureaucratic, less unwilling to trade with other markets and more democratic than the shambles also known as the EU. At the same time we won't be forced to go into monetary union (which will no doubt cause havoc in this country) and we can still keep our Parliament where it belongs - Westminster.
The blind see through the eyes of nationalism. The "no" debate centres primarily on issues of sovereignty. A common currency with an inevitable common tax system will lead to an overall better social and economic structure throughout Europe. Surely this is more important than the Queen's head on a ten pound note?
I'm all for free trade and unrestricted travel, passport hassles a minimum etc. However when you lose your currency and ability to control your own economy then you have lost control of your political path and the British form of democracy. Whilst I love going to Europe I am conscious of radical cultural differences and cannot see the British people being comfortable in alien cultures and languages.
Why can't we have a bit of honesty in the debate, and the acknowledgement that this is a political project, not an economic one. The left-leaning parties see the similarly left-leaning EU as the best way of ensuring that we will have left-leaning economic policies in perpetuity, as the ability of any incoming right-leaning government to introduce new policies based on the major economic controls of taxation, interest rates and exchange rates is removed.
Why large corporations, blinded by the opportunities for increased profit through reduced costs, are so keen on this is also beyond me. They already bitch about red tape and Government/EU restrictions. What do they think is going to happen once the euro "project" is complete? Will everything just stop to allow them to enjoy their new found profits, or will the creative energies of Brussels be turned to the thing it enjoys more than anything else - inventing new regulations?
Yes, I do know enough in order to form a view on the issue. Continental European countries need either to fund properly or radically alter their extravagant state pension schemes before we can join. Otherwise, we will be faced with a huge increase in the UK tax burden. Furthermore, although directly related to the currency issue, I don't care for the continental model of jurisprudence.
The Euro issue is NOT about money nor finance. It is about who we are and who controls our lives. Whilst we control our own currency (no matter how strong or weak it be) we are free to choose our own course of action. To submit to the euro is to submit to financial and political control outwith our own democratic practice.
If we want a Euro state so be it but let no one be of any delusion that control of ones own currency and ones own state are not one and the same thing. The euro issue is not about money - it is ultimately about a choice of political and democratic control.
Joining the Euro or not, is not the question, the question is "do the British people want jobs now, and for their children later". Having lived in Belgium for more than 25 years I cannot believe some of the comments from anti-euro campaigners. The situation in Belgium is not any different, the average Belgian does not want to change their francs for a euro, but they do want jobs now, and in the future and they do realise what the stakes are. Go on and say no to the euro, and continue towards a future of being the world's largest open air museum of industrialisation. For once "Wake up Britain".
How can you "Englanders" talk about sovereignty when the Americans are eavesdropping on all secret British Telecom traffic, using Echelon bases on your own territory! I don't particularly like the French, but at least they have the courage to stand up to US hegemony. "England" on the other hand is shamefully following the Americans in whatever they dictate. I don't particularly like the Germans either, and I'm proud my grandfather killed a few during WWII, but I'm proud to be European, and as soon as I can get one, I'll get a European Passport for my European nationality. What we need is a democratically elected EU legislative and executive. The only nation in the world who actively opposes this is none other than the USA. A united Europe would be too much of a challenge to their supremacy, and the truth is the Americans just can't live with that.
I'm 16 and basically I have no idea what the differences between having the euro and the pound would be. My generation is going to be affected by the decision and yet we are not given any kind of education in the matter. Why do we get taught a lot of irrelevant and useless information in schools and not information that we need to understand what is going on? Most people of my age are ignorant of current affairs and important news. They think that it is unimportant. Well the euro is an important matter and we need to know more about it. People my age should then be asked what they think should happen. The affects of the euro won't be felt by half of the people that are entitled to vote on the matter, my generation will be affected by it for the rest of our lives.
What makes me angry are these politicians that call Euro-sceptics "anti-European" this shows they don't know the difference between the "euro" which is the currency of most EU members and Europe which a geographical region.
Switzerland and Norway are still European countries despite not being members of the EU.
Come on Pro-Euro's, lets have a proper debate.
Oliver Rogers, UK
If there had been a referendum thirty years ago on whether to adopt a decimal currency, there would have been outright opposition. Apart from a few cranks, however, nobody would seriously suggest reintroducing pounds, shillings and pence today. It will be the same with the euro: a lot of storm and fury, then we will introduce it and the next generation will not understand what all the fuss was about. The British way in EU affairs has (unfortunately) always been to stand back and let the others go ahead for fear of upsetting or alienating voters at home and then jumping on the bandwagon at a later time and having to accept the situation as we find it. This has been the history of Britain's involvement since it joined the EEC, now the EU. The island geography has a lot to answer for.
First, many commentators assume - since "cash" is increasingly irrelevant - that the euro isn't that big a deal. In fact, in so far as monetary policy will be set from the ECB, its a huge deal for England.
Second, I've noticed that most Europeans aren't aware of financial history. Monetary union has been tried before in Europe, and failed, both in the Austro-Hungarian empire and with the Latin Monetary Union which ended in the 1920's. How will the Euro end? Why isn't anyone asking this question now? Finally, the English need not worry ever about becoming an American "state". Under NAFTA, all countries retain all their sovereignty. NAFTA simply furthers trade (which is what you English were traditionally in favour of, after all!). Why don't y'all hook up with NAFTA?
I worked in export when we were in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and we were struggling to sell goods to members of The European Economic Community (EEC) so when we had a referendum about joining EEC I voted to join. However I voted to join a trading group not to become part of some European federal super state. Goodness knows we have enough trouble dealing with our local councils within the UK. They often seem remote and to pay lip-service to public consultation. Imagine what it would be like being poor little UK dealing with a super state! God help us if we become just another small country in a huge organisation run by unelected members. Frankly it terrifies me.
I don't give a damn what the currency is called. Money flows around through the stock markets, changes value daily and is traded like anything else. I think anything that prevents the money-grabbing yahoos in the City making a profit from causing economic hardship and collapse is a darned good idea. It's about time that Hague and his bunch of cronies stopped pandering to negative nationalism so that we could at last have an informed debate. All the decent civilised arguments are "for", and all the jingoistic arguments are "against". I say federalise all the way!
The argument that Britain would lose all fiscal and political sovereignty and be dragged into a "super state" does not bear weight. The EU is and continues to be made up of individual nations, and as such interests will continue to operate on a national level (hence the recent determination by all sides to retain key national vetoes at Nice). Britain is one of the key players in Europe, not (and here's news for the unilateral euro-phobes) an unwitting dupe being dragged into slavery by mad continentals. It is productive that the debate in the UK is so strong on both sides, as real argument over real issues is valuable, but it seems sad that some cannot even stand to be in the same country as those they label "euro traitors", or that they believe any country in a world whose decisions are made at an international level is defined not culturally but by the colour of its banknotes.
Europe has so many structural problems which it refuses to even acknowledge, and its complacency is frightening.
I can assure people in Europe that millions in this country understand perfectly the implications of a single currency, which is why they wont touch it with a barge pole.
By all means blame us when it collapses, but you won't be using our savings in futile attempts to bail it out.
I am intrigued by some of the comments that we have more in common with the USA and Australia than Europe. The USA has a huge Spanish speaking population, and Australia has a very large Greek population. Equally, England has its linguistic origins with Germanic and French. Forming unions with the USA just won't ever happen. The largest single block of trade we do is with the EU, and therefore it makes sense to share a currency. We need to secure a stable trading environment for our security and prosperity.
As a business student I can see some of both sides of the argument.
Certainly it makes life a lot easier for businesses who don't have to worry about exchange rates. This of course benefits tourists as well.
But my main concern is that of how can one interest rate serve the whole of the EU effectively. We struggle with one rate for the whole of the UK. With our economy being in line with that of the US it would mean that we would be at a disadvantage far more that any of our other European neighbours.
There definitely needs to be a proper debate with all the facts. Otherwise we could enter simply because people vote yes to save them from having to go to the Bureau de Change!
It is to our shame that our country receives EU aid to regenerate some of the poorest areas in the EU, that also happen to fall inside our borders. The class-ridden elitist British way of doing
things has ruined our country and spoiled more than one generation of its people. Let us join
the Euro as whole hearted Europeans, ask forgiveness, and learn better ways from those who know.
The nationalist argument is minor in itself. I have managed to maintain my national identity as a Welshman in England for 20 years. The economic arguments are the important ones. I am reminded of the results of mixed ability classes in school, where 20 per cent benefited but 80 per cent suffered. The end result being that average results suffered. Lets stay out of the Euro and build on our strengths from being the gateway between USA and Europe! That is where our future path should lie.
Gerry Crow, Germany (British soldier serving in Germany)
I have just watched the BBC's "Referendum Street" programme and I have to say that it was a huge disappointment in that it failed to treat seriously or in any real depth the huge constitutional, legal and economic implications that entry into the euro would mean. Anyone who seriously thinks that one interest rate can possibly suit all the economies within the European Union is either deluding themselves or others. The Irish economy is a case in point. Moreover, we would be unable to get out once we had entered. The ERM debacle should be a lesson to us all.
We are a part of Europe, we need to embrace the euro as the Irish have done as this will encourage further investment. We will always be British and nothing will ever change this. Cash will be a thing of the past in the future with all transactions paid by credit/ debit so does it matter if it is a euro or a pound? People should get real!!
Both the pro and anti-euro camps are talking in totally hypothetical senses. The coins and notes aren't even in circulation yet!! At the present time the pound is strong enough to stay outside. However, unless it completely collapses, we will eventually have to join, so let it be on our terms, when it's right for the economy, and when the euro has some history to prove or refute each side's claims.
George Disbrey, Luton
Please can we get away from this "Scrap the pound" and "The British people don't want etc" That sort of talk just polarises opinion. Only one person has ever spoken to me about this issue. When told "You don't want to scrap the pound, do you?" A loaded question in the first place. I replied that I thought that under certain circumstances it might be advantageous they weren't prepared to discuss it at all and turned away. What we need is clear information from the politicians, every time I hear someone say the words "Scrap the pound" I turn off.
I am a 4th year pupil from Anderson High School in Shetland.
I think that the euro is a great idea and everyone should vote YES
Even after 30 years of EC membership our economy is more closely aligned to the US than to Europe. Taken with the intangible ties of language and kinship I believe the transatlantic relationship is far more significant to us than anything the EU has to offer.
I wonder why we need the EU at all?
Chris Busby, UK
Signing up to the Euro means we lose control of the ability to set our own interest rates.
We now know that we will also lose the power to set our own tax and spending limits.
So what is the point of having our own government ?
If we ever are mad enough to sign up to this political project then our own parliament will be just a district council in the great Euro Superstate.
We must stay out.
Several people have mentioned how the UK economy stands to lose from monetary union because it is stronger than those in Europe. These people have short memories. All through the 70's and 80's we looked across the channel enviously at their successful economies while ours declined and the Americans tied themselves in knots worrying about Japanese expansion. The folly of ruling out joining the euro forever is that is assumes no change. If we join, we can always come out again. If we do not, we may have to go through pain to meet the conditions of joining, at a time when we cannot afford to be so smug.
When discussing macro economics, the main driving force towards prosperity is confidence. It seems clear enough to me that the top economists in the world are divided in their thinking towards the Euro. The result from this is uncertainty, hence I do not believe that the Euro can ever be successful because of the uncertainty it has inherent with its creation. The Euro may be a good thing in theory but it will never succeed unless people start thinking it can succeed, which I never think they will.
Paul Barber, Canada
Having read the comments below, it is obvious how far both sides of the debate have to go before we can discuss this subject in a grown up fashion. It seems to be economic realists versus backward looking nationalists who are scared of other countries. Either way, flag waving jingoism is obscuring the real debate.
I am yet to hear a convincing argument as to how our 'national character and identity' will be in any way debased should we join the 'euro', and why this would be a bad thing anyway. Nothing changed when we went decimal. I woke up on the day after feeling the same. Why am I suddenly going to be less English or British because the coins in my pocket have changed?
The EU needs sorting out, no question, the bureaucracy is staggering. But they have fresh ideas. They do not have to keep an eye on opinion polls when setting policy. They can introduce fresh policies to tackle problems realistically, imaginatively and effectively as opposed to doing simply what is popular and will give them a second term.
Looks to me as if the Brits have more of a identity crisis than the Germans who the British media love to portray as a nation who is yet to come to terms with its past. Make up your mind and please do not create stumbling blocks to Europe.
Not only do the traitors who support the euro and EU membership wish to see the UK surrender the right to govern itself, they also want to lock us into a corrupt, corporatist, protectionist racket which trades with only 5% of the world's population. I could beat anyone in an argument about British membership of the EU on any grounds at all, political, economic, historical or intellectual.
I would be able to make a better judgement if I knew what the exchange rate of the pound to the euro was going to be fixed at.
Unfortunately most people don't understand economics and so will be susceptible to nationalist and xenophobic arguments. People refer to the drop in the Euro as a weakness without understanding the implications. The UK has lost foreign investment and business because of the strength of the pound, we can't produce goods cheaply enough for export. Is this to our benefit? What about Corus closing steel plants, Vauxhall and Ford closing factories? This is due to increased competition from a cheaper Euro zone.
The UK should not join the Euro for the reason that our economic situation is generally better than most of the euroland countries. Our unemployment is lower than the average euroland countries. The Euro although it is stabilizing dropped a lot of its value within a few months of the launch. There is growing resentment to the Euro in some euroland countries especially Germany. The referendum in Denmark was a decisive "No" to the Euro. How can the time be right fro Britain to join the Euro?
Craig Jones, Germany
I think that the EU is good for trade. Trade is the only thing, with the exception of the dustbin, that the EU is actually good for.
The anti camp use the word 'sovereignty' without providing an accurate definition. How much sovereignty has the UK exhibited during the post-war era as it has slavishly followed US foreign policy? Likewise ,what use was economic independence when faced by George Soros and co. in 1992
It's not a case of having a choice between being a province of the EU and being the 51st state of the USA.
There is the third way- an independent UK, which instead of giving Brussels billions to waste, uses it to build schools, hospitals etc. (which would the Euro-enthusiasts prefer by the way? To see our money wasted by Eurocrats or to be spent on improving our standard of living?)
If people really want to be part of the EU, they can go and live in France, Germany etc. Let the rest of us get on with being British.
Joseph Kellie, Ireland
As far as I can see the benefits of the Euro are aimed at businesses. This in turn benefits the workers because struggling industries (i.e. car manufacturing) will be able to survive in the UK, along with the worker's jobs. My concern is that the Euro is supposed to encourage trade and employment across Europe, but how can that be so when we in the UK pay so much more for things like groceries and cars? We pay different tax rates and levels of VAT? We have different laws? There's much more involved in being a superstate than a single currency.
I think it is important to have a rational debate based sound economic judgement rather than irrational emotive language. It seems that the majority of business leaders want to change to the euro - that for me indicates that the euro may well provide real economic benefits. Another point I would like to make is that the government and press only seem to talk about Britain's interests - what about the novel idea of thinking about European and Global interests?
No-one seems to have pointed out that the countries that are most keen on an Euro super state are those that are most ashamed of their past.
Despite the cries of 'petty', 'dreary' and 'grow up' in the pro Euro comments the question remains: If we need to spend more money on schools and hospitals and the government need to raise tax to pay for it - will the bankers in Frankfurt say 'yes, what a fine idea' or 'no, that might upset the economic apple cart - when you joined the Euro you knew there were going to be curbs on taxation'. If the government doesn't have a free hand to raise taxes as it sees fit then how can they deliver on transport, schools or hospitals without having a great big excuse to hand - 'the guys in Frankfurt said No, terribly sorry'.
I am sorry but why do we have to join the Euro. I was under the impression, mistakenly it seems that the people would be allowed to decide in a referendum, however it seems that the government has already decided that we will join. Why can the government not see that people have worries about this as it is one of the biggest issues facing our time.
Riad Mannan, UK
A trip to the local library to read the Treaty of Maastricht will end uncertainty for the "I don't know enough about it brigade". There, free of political spin and the opinion of others, they will read that EMU is precisely about political union, and that the reserves of the Bank of England will be transferred to the European Central Bank, thereby ensuring that Britain has no option but to embrace EU economic and tax policy, and able to pay the bills in other countries.
Don't take my word for it, go and read it. Then vote No.
It seems strange to me that a strong, economically successful country such as ours wishes to hand over control to a European State. I can't see that we have more to gain than to loose. Losing the pound is not really the issue, giving up control is. Although it initially was sold as a beneficial economic move, it is slowly turning into a Federal State. I would prefer more power in local hands where I believe it is more effective rather than moving it further away.
I buy my products from the local supermarket but don't expect total union with them. I don't want to live in the supermarket, nor do I want their manager telling me how to live my life. By the same token, at a national level we want to trade with Europe without the need to become politically and economically one with Europe. As for the euro, I agree with other contributors that the dollar would be a better bet. At least it has a proven track record.
What is the big rush to join?
Does it give politicians pleasure to
see old systems that have worked
so well dismantled just to generate
a little extra wealth! People have only
commented on the good stuff for the
euro and European Union, but has
anybody looked at the capital outflow
from this country that may happen
if Britain did join. The UK is a nation
of savers and house owners compared
to the rest of Europe. Consequently,
as time goes on and as Europe begins
to struggle with an ageing population,
the UK is going to have to subsidise
the rest of Europe because the UK
is economically sound. Is that fair
to the British people who have worked
so hard to have their money given
It seems to me that the people who are more concerned with 'Saving the Pound' are those with lots of pounds. eg: Murdoch's henchmen and lets not forget the Independence Party. They weren't short of a few quid either. .
If this debate is going to be decided by the level of sophistication displayed by Dave, Wales below we might as well give up.
For his information France and Germany are also 'free' and 'open' societies. We have not fought France since 1815, they have been our allies in 3 major wars since. It is essential that we grow up as a nation and stop indulging in this childish posturing.
The idea of a separate "euro" zone in a global economy is absurd. Information technology is already creating a single market with a single currency (Visa/Mastercard) under e-commerce. All the advantages of Euro membership dissipate under this trend. This is the real eocnomic future so why surrender more of our political independence for an "economic white elephant".
The whole attitude to the Euro is a reflection of the UK attitude to Europe: a lack of understanding and a rejection of anything vaguely European. Being an island has isolated Britain from some of the events which have driven the French and Germans to push for closer unity. But the world is changing and being an island is no longer a good reason to avoid closer political and economic ties with our neighbours.
What pains me about the debate is the simplistic and emotional way the antis argue their case. They do not discuss the merits or otherwise of the Euro, instead they play on the traditional working class British view of foreigners as being less able than us Brits. They talk of "abolishing" the pound. It would not be abolished, it would be pooled and remember a currency is not a virility symbol, it is a tool of exchange, nothing more and nothing less. They then talk about our Queen's head being taken off our notes, well this monarch is the first to appear on our notes, it is a recent thing, not traditional at all.
They then talk about our economy being run from Berlin and Paris, choosing to forget that we are equal members of the group, or would be if we had any sense.
Doubters should read about the early days of the US, some did not believe it would work there, look at a map of the 13 original colonies/states, they made damn sure that every single one had a coastline, just in case it all went wrong!
Let's have some open minds and original thought.
There is no reason why the UK cannot be part of a successful single currency but remain a sovereign nation. It is ludicrous to suggest otherwise, but then the right-wing sections of the political process see stoking up misguided and irrational hatred of Europe as the only chance of gaining power.
Iain Higgs, England
The euro will be a success, the
politicians will not let it fail. Britain
will eventually adopt the currency.
There will be referendum after
referendum (like the Danes) until the
euro is adopted. Then that'll be it.
In 20-30 years time a new
generation will have grown up only
knowing the euro, and it will be
like decimalisation is to everyone
now. A single currency has obvious
advantages, but I really don't know
that I want it.
Joining the euro is not just about the coins in our pockets. It will result in the loss of our national identity, our democracy and our culture. Not so very long ago these were things that men and women valued enough to give their lives for. The great thing about Germans and Italians and even French is that they are different to us, and so may it continue.
Of course we should join the euro, there is no doubt in my mind. Everyone would come to the same conclusion if they were not influenced by petty political beliefs and xenophobia.
The UK does not need to give up its identity. Europe should be a trading partner only. We do not need to be ruled by a government from outside our country.
Europe have taken away our pounds shillings and pence, our weights and measures, they tell us how to run our legal system our prisons, they tell our farmers what they can and cannot grow, they have taken most of our fish stocks, they have taken over our roads by telling us to let there larger lorries into our country I say enough is enough.
As someone who travels around the Euro countries, I have found, almost without exception, that the person on the street would prefer to have their own currency back. If it is the will of the people, then democracy must prevail, and take them out of the artificial currency.
Mark Mitchell, UK
Given that Britain invests more in the USA than she does in the Eurozone, and given that the USA invests more in Britain than in the Eurozone, the reality seems to be that we are closer to the USA than to Eurozone states.
Michael Gahan, Ireland
At the personal level I would never hand over control of my financial future to my next door neighbour, and I have no intention of doing it at a national level either.
Britain is the money centre of Europe, but if the British don't adopt the euro then that shall quickly change. Lets face it the euro can only benefit Britain both economically and politically. Its time for the British to look toward the future and not the past, since Britain is no longer an empire.
C Griffiths, UK
The idea of a single currency is in essence a very good one and I see no real reason not to back it. If it makes economic sense to join the euro, then any other reason not to is simply vanity. The only problem that presents itself in a single currency is the closer political ties it would inevitably engender. The idea of a single European state is ridiculous idea no less imperial than the ideas that drove Europe's last colonial expansion/imperial. British people may live near to Europe, and we may be Europeans, but we are British as well and that national identity is important. Though the euro does not necessarily infringe upon that national identity any closer political links with or by continental European institutions is a bad idea and one that the British people as a whole are not interested in.
It is these two factors, the euro and the idea of a single European super state that must be separated from each other. One is a good idea, the other is most definitely not.
I think people forget that only ten years ago, sterling was devalued, amidst a government in turmoil; what happened? They were re-elected in 1992. So much for casting out a government based on economic performance. Governments only work for themselves issuing promises near election time, why not join the euro and allow a third party take control?
We have seen clearly over the past few years that the EU is not a democracy. It is run by non-elected Commissioners (who are far too often failed ex-national politicians) and it's "Parliament" has little or no real power. They cannot even agree which of two meeting places they will use, and waste vast sums of our money maintaining the current crazy system. Here we slavishly adopt every dictum from the European bureaucrats whilst the other member states either ignore what doesn't suit them, (e.g. France and beef or Greece claiming more subsidy for tobacco from the CAP than they actually grew for instance).
Before I would even consider joining that set-up it would have to be changed, and changed radically. We stood alone for the first two years of WWII to protect our sovereign independence and our individual freedoms enshrined in Magna Carta, and currently structured the European Union set-up negates both.
Alex Warren, UK
What any British government worth its salt should be doing is preparing the way ahead for the next 25-50 years. That means being actively involved in Europe and trading in euros. The answer is as simple as that. Anything other than that is simply a delusion of Empire, which is long gone, my lords.
As an Irish citizen of a country that will soon be introducing the euro in notes and coins, I would like to take issue with the person who thinks that the euro is being forced on Europeans without consultation. Ireland and France had referendums on joining it in 1992 and 1993. It was the Maastricht Treaty referendum. Under that treaty, all EU states except the UK and Denmark, and I suppose later Sweden, decided to go ahead and join the single currency.
As the euro currently stands, it is a weak currency. Even in the third largest economy in the world, Germany, it is weak. If Britain did join it would be a gamble to stabilise the currency. What the UK must decide is whether to take this gamble now or later along the road, and when it would be most profitable for the country to do so.
Geoff Jones, UK
If we need to change our currency (an assumption which I question), why change it for some arriviste creation like the euro? Why not the dollar? It's got a long and stable history and is the currency of the world's biggest economy, after all.
The euro is not like the gold standard. The purpose of everybody having the same currency is that they cannot break away from it. The UK must wake up to the benefits of the euro as it has been consistently proven wrong on its outcast views. It should embrace Europe and be at the centre of its policy making and hence represent its interests in a more productive manner.
R. Greenwood, Britain
The way I see it, the Conservatives did a lot of bad things for our country, New Labour aren't much better, so why not give the power to Europe? In all likelihood they could do a better job.
The only policy the Tories have re the euro, is to save the pound and destroy British jobs and exports in the process. A slight loss of sovereignty is minor compared to massive job losses.
Although pro-European, I feel the only way a single European currency would benefit the UK is, following a reassured prudent approach, to administer a greater level of tolerance, persistence and belief in speculation. We have all the current economic credentials and English is the international language of business but we WILL need more strength in our buying power and I'm not convinced we could survive alone in the world with the dreary old pound especially IF the euro really takes off. We are right to stay out at first but it could be to our detriment in later years and may even reduce our say in governing decisions.
Andrew Poole, UK
The Euro is now 20% down since the official launch. If this is a continuing trend who in their right mind will vote for a 20% reduction in their assets?
A good product sells itself. The Deutschmark used to be a strong currency, yet now it's trying to join up in not only a three-legged race, but a multi-legged race with weak currencies. The UK has done remarkably well outside the euro-zone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
I think that the issue of the euro should be looked a separately from all this rabid nationalistic rubbish that members of the older generations cling to. People ought to stop looking to the past. The Euro is another European ideal that is perhaps for those countries truly committed to the ideals of Europe. Unfortunately at the moment Britain is not one of those countries.
I consider myself to be quite interested in world affairs, and have thought about the euro a great deal. I personally have no objection to it in principal or practice, but then nor am I of the view that we should jump on right away. I think the pro-lobby needs to be more vocal as it has a hard time with the printed media, but both sides should make their views, with their reasons, more clear.
Brian Maggs, England
Living in Belgium, I see the benefits of the Euro as a common economic tool for citizens of all the member states to use and trade in, so I guess I would fall on the side of Britain joining the Euro being a good idea. But I have to say that David Easley's idea of an economic partnership with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is one with a lot of merit that bears looking at. Perhaps that's why it may never happen and Britain will be forced one way or another into a two horse race situation where neither option is right for Britain, its economy or its people?
The Euro is like a return to the gold standard - fixed exchange rates between countries. That ended in tears and the depression of the 1930s. Doesn't anyone learn from history?
If this argument is about economics then let the EU adopt a stronger more stable currency the pound! Why do we have to unite with another nation at all? Economically or politically? History has proved again and again that the UK is better independent.
Should we join the Euro? Without any really impartial information from media or politicians, I can only judge by my experience.
The French, Germans, Italians and Greeks I have met are every bit as clever and kind as any English. They want a good job and a nice house, play football, enjoy a glass of beer, and they love their children. Our interests seem well aligned. I am willing to join them.
I don't think I know enough about the EURO and economics to make a judgement on this issue, what's more I don't believe the experts know either. I do get a strong feeling that the whole EU deal does suit the interests of France and Germany far better than the UK.
The euro will create winners and losers in life just as the £ and $ does. Those at the bottom will remain at the bottom and those at the top will remain at the top no matter if we were paid in bananas!
The UK is much closer to the USA than Europe. Most people in the UK have little knowledge and even less interest in the EU, as was clearly shown by the BBC poll. Europe will not function successfully until the members adopt a common language. This seems unlikely to occur; therefore the suggestion by David Easley seems to be the best way forward.
One thing gets me particularly annoyed: The nonsensical arguments from the anti camp. They are on the whole nothing but pure nationalist. This also reflects the popular vote in Britain. These people fail to understand that things have changed since the Second World War and the British economy depends on the European economy. With the increased dependency on European exports, the issue of exchange rate fluctuations and costs of exchanging monies for British business becomes acute.
I know enough to know that the euro has failed in its fundemental task of providing Europe with an effective single currency. I've watched the euro fail and I think that to join the ranks would be disasterous. The pound is a strong currency. What good would it do to scrap it and adopt a new one that is failing?
When will Labour learn that the main driving forces behind the EU are power-hungry France and Germany and money-hungry Spain, Italy and the rest. So what will we get out of it? A bloody nose comes to mind.
I dont know enough, no-one ever will. What I do know is that France and Germany have been our bitterest enemies in the past, and much blood has been spilt for the UK to remain a 'free' country and an 'open' democracy.
To sacrifice those things in the name of 'economic reality', is to play into the hands of those who would wish to make us slaves to their ideology .
Blair's Government has become the closest we, The British People, have ever come to a modern dictatorship, which seeks to push us in directions which will fundamentally break this nation.
To give up one's right to determine your nations future, is to give up the right to say no.
Lets not kid ourselves, we don't trust them, never have, never will, why? Because they steal our sunbeds (Germans)and ban our beef (France).
No No No No No to the Euro.
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