Friday, 18 January, 2002, 15:49 GMT
Is membership of the euro inevitable for all EU countries?
As the crisp notes of the euro continue to slip from the cash machines into consumers' wallets, is one of the standard rallying calls of the eurosceptics no longer valid?
Some opponents of the euro argued that it simply wouldn't work - the evidence so far is to the contrary.
Opinion polls in the three EU countries outside the euro already show greater enthusiasm for the currency.
Denmark and Sweden indicate that referendums on the euro will come sooner rather than later.
Given the smooth launch of the euro, is it now inevitable that EU member states outside the Eurozone - Sweden, Britain and Denmark - will join?
For this week's Europewide Debate, Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together Charles Kennedy, the leader of the most pro-European British political party, the Liberal Democrats - and in Copenhagen, the spokesman of the party responsible for securing a No to the Euro in Denmark, Soren Espersen of the People's Party.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I hope the U.K. does not abandon the British Pound. The pound is the only currency in the world with a greater than one for one exchange rate with the U.S. dollar. Therefore, British currency is unique. I am pleased that Britain is not giving up its monetary sovereignty as easily as some other countries have. Probably Sweden and Denmark will join eventually as they are surrounded by Euro using countries, but I hope not. The same can be said for Switzerland. There are just too many differences among
cultures in Europe to make me think this Euro conversion will work over the long haul.
As an Englishman who witnessed firsthand the euro-changeover in France this new year, not only do I think it is inevitable that Britain, Denmark and Sweden will join the euro, but also necessary. At the end of the day, all arguments about the "strong" British pound aside, how can these countries, Britain especially, expect to carry any weight in the EU if they are unwilling to join in perhaps it's greatest ever venture?
Joining the Euro is not inevitable. Nor is it desirable for all of Europe to join.
A more local currency will be more responsive to the needs of those parts of Europe whose economies don't follow the same patterns. For those countries on the edge of Europe I hope things work out. I have no doubt the Euro will be a success - but will it be a success for everyone? I don't think so.
Canada has long lived next to a much larger currency area but it still manages to trade and do business perfectly easily. So there is nothing inevitable about joining the Euro.
Canada has long lived next to a much larger currency area but it still manages to trade
Will Lever, UK
I think it's inevitable that Sweden and Denmark will one day join. Not sure about Britain though. Latest opinion polls in the former 2 countries have shown growing majorities in favour of switching to the Euro - 55% for in Sweden and 57% for in Denmark. Incidentally, only 34% of Danes now say they are opposed to the Euro. So I think that's great news! More countries to go to without being ripped off by the bureaux de changes. Hopefully when these countries say "Yes", the British will then follow suit. But I wouldn't place bets on it. One of the key issues that British voters seem to ponder regarding the Euro is identity, i.e. will the Euro make me feel less British than I am now. Well, when this Irishman laid hands on the Euro notes and coins (the coins have national symbols on the back by the way, different ones depending on the country) I didn't feel any less Irish. So what's the problem? Another thing - British Eurosceptics like to rant on about how supposedly Euroland citizens had no say on joining the Euro. Oh yes they did. The Maastricht treaty allowed the creation of the Euro and Britain and Denmark's opt-outs. That treaty received and overwhelming "Yes" vote in Ireland in 1992 and a narrow one in France the same year.
Wexford, Republic of Ireland
A country's currency, as well as its flag, are a source of pride and identity. I can't imagine giving up our currency with its Washingtons, Lincolns, Hamiltons proudly engraved, for say, a single North, Central, and South American generic currency.
There's a big difference between what's good for a country and what's easier for a country's citizens. We in Spain had no desire to start counting in a different currency on January 1st. However, I believe that the future of the country and the economic power that the EU can achieve depends greatly on the widespread of the Euro. The United States have ruled the world for the past century. We, Europeans, can have a go at it now...
Britons will need to learn more about the euro before they do anything
Sweden and Denmark will most probably have referendums next year, join the exchange mechanism shortly after and start using euro coins and notes within five years. Denmark and Sweden are trading nations that will see the benefit of joining the Europewide currency.
Norway and Iceland will probably become EU members by approximately that time which means we will join the euro as well as will our neighbours in the Baltic states.
Britons will need to learn more about the euro before they do anything. There's a tendency of looking at the EU as "them" in Britain, rather than "us", although Britain is a full EU-member and has been for the last three decades.
No, I do not think it is inevitable that the UK, Denmark and Sweden will join the euro.
However, I do feel that in the future, remaining a member of the EU will become impossible for these countries without joining the euro.
With the Estonian Kroon tied to the Deutschmark for many years and now tied to the euro at a fixed exchange rate we are ideally suited to adopting the new currency at the earliest opportunity.
Monetary union should be voluntary
I think that if the EU is a free organisation like it claims to be then monetary union should be voluntary. I also believe that it is in the UK's best interests to pull out of the EU since it is nothing more than a tool to create a European superstate. Why should the UK take orders from Brussels and Frankfurt?
What most people who criticise Britain's' reluctance to join the euro fail to appreciate is the source of this lack of confidence. Unlike the majority of citizens of Europe's constitutionally defined states, Britons are neither citizens nor are they protected by a constitution. They are subjects of a monarchy with no rights enshrined in any written constitution. This country runs by parliamentary precedent and legal redress. Until the people of Britain can point to rights and a national identity enshrined in and defined by a constitution, they cannot proceed with any confidence in international power-sharing initiatives.
Yes, it is inevitable and so it should be. It just seems absurd that the UK hasn't joined the euro already; it would be completely ironic if the accession states of central and eastern Europe joined before the UK. The press seem to be making a big fuss about the symbolic function of the British Pound, despite the fact that in its present form it has only been around since the 1970s and decimalisation. For those people who travel, we can't wait to have the euro!!!!
We can't wait to have the euro
I suspect we will be the last, dragging our feet as usual. While I can see the advantages of a "wait and see" policy, I can't help thinking we should have bitten the bullet with the 12 and thereby had more influence in the euro's development.
It would be better to watch how the euro does for a year or two first. It will be easier to get into the euro than out of it.
Hopefully now that Britons, Swedes and Danes can see how well the euro is doing in Europe they will abandon the idea that is it some terrible force that will destroy everything we stand for! Now we can all see that EMU really does work, it's about time we joined! It seems inevitable, however, that Britain, seemingly the most euro-sceptic country in the EU will be the last to join. More fool us.
Inevitably. But as usual in matters European, the UK will arrive late when major decisions have been made and then whinge that it does not have enough input. Sweden and Denmark will join earlier and with more grace. Each new member of the EU will adopt the euro as a matter of course. A currency from the Atlantic to the Urals? Probably, and beyond!
Sweden and Denmark will join earlier and with more grace
Sweden will definitely join soon, at least I hope so. The polls are already in favour and the Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson gave indications of a euro referendum in spring 2003. Until then they will have time to travel and find out about the practical advantages of the euro.
The fact that the introduction of the euro went smoothly should not be taken as a sign that Britain should join. The true test of whether the currency is successful can only be judged after the Eurozone has gone though both boom and bust cycles, when it will seen whether there is sufficient flexibility to permit 12 countries to run independent fiscal policies.
Of course it isn't! Listening to people in Britain, you get the impression that even if the euro was to go on and be a tremendous success, the British would still find some reason not to join. Isolationism always has, and always will, rule the UK.
The British would still find some reason not to join
Well, let's put it this way - if entry to the euro is actually inevitable for all EU nations, I suppose the Free Three should start contemplating their withdrawal from the EU immediately. EFTA here we come!
Perhaps, Mr S. Phutrakul from the Czech Republic may point out a country where public opinion is better taken into account than the EU countries! I was under the impression that all these countries are "functioning democracies", and therefore, the argument of "imposing" the euro is outdated. It is interesting to note that the citizens of the euro countries embraced the change and those outside keep complaining. This means not only that they have a problem with adopting change but they also have problems when others change.
I still believe it is too early to be calling the euro a success. Then again, did people really have a choice? They could have either refused to use the money and not eat, or they had to resign to the fact that they must use it if they wished to continue with their lives. We must remember that the euro was imposed on many citizens rather than chosen by them. Those countries that actually had a referendum on it refused it. MPs in the Czech Republic are now pushing EU entry to the public, but everyone knows that the decision has already been made behind closed doors. As long as power is held and driven by the very few people in heads of office, I'm afraid that the Eurozone may be inevitable for those countries that disregard popular opinion. I still continue my argument that the euro is the first step in federalising Europe. As long as the oligarchy in Brussels has its way I believe we can expect to see their wishes come to fruition in less than 15 years. If citizens are actually given a chance to vote on it instead of having it forced upon them, I think the outcome will be very different. It's up to us, not the suits.
We must remember that the euro was imposed on many citizens rather than chosen by them
S Phutrakul, Czech Republic
S Phutrakul, Czech Republic
I'm sure they will eventually. After all, there will come a day when there will be a worldwide currency so this is a logical step in that direction- even if it is a couple of hundred of years in the future. Nothing lasts forever, certainly not currencies.
No it is not inevitable at all that Sweden, Denmark, and notably the UK will join the euro. We don't need the euro whatsoever and I will never vote for anything to do with the euro. I will not vote to be ruled by the unelected of Brussels and Frankfurt.
Paul Latham, England
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