The euro has many advantages but not even the most ardent supporter of the single currency would disagree with the fact that Spain and the other euro nations will loose a certain degree of national status on January 1.
I have never been a supporter of the single currency because I do not seriously believe that trying to merge a group of currencies from a group of nations with different economies is a good idea. I believe more in the free-market. But despite my opposition I do believe in Europe and I disagree with Tony Blair that by not signing up to the euro Britain will no longer be at the heart of Europe. Britain's future is in Europe but as he himself has shown Britain is also very aware of what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic. I fully agree that Britain can act as a bridge between Europe and the United States but by signing to the euro Britain would loose some national sovereignty and some power of decision. If he himself was so confident that Britain's future lay in Europe then perhaps he should have left his recent shuttle diplomacy to the European President and Commission because that is their role, representing Europe. Being at the heart of Europe for me means respecting the European institutions and realising that you have a rotating presidency of nations.
Britain did not have the presidency of the European Union at the time of the attacks on September 11 and therefore Blair should have worked within the European frame-work instead of embarking on his one man crusade which angered many nations who are also at the heart of Europe.
Denmark moves right
Denmark has more than once proved to be a bellwether nation in the European Union. Its voters' ambivalence about membership of the euro, for instance, reflects a wider unease within the Union. The surprising result of its general election held in mid-week should therefore be looked at closely. For the first time since 1924 the Social Democrats were not returned as the country's largest party, being supplanted by the Liberal Party which took 33 per cent of the vote, an increase of 11 per cent on its share at the last election three years ago. Two reasons are being given for this outcome: first, the misjudgement of the Social Democrats in calling a snap election immediately following the September 11 atrocities in the United States; second, the rather rightist campaign fought by the Liberals which focussed on immigration controls. The Liberal's leader, Fogh Rasmussen, promised a law requiring immigrants to wait seven years before being able to claim welfare benefits and controlling the entry of spouses and children; he also said that a national debate was needed about who belongs to Danish society.
The issue of immigration also helped the extreme right Danish People's Party to increase its support from 7 to 12 per cent. The new Liberal government may have to rely on parliamentary support from the People's Party but Fogh Rasmussen has said that he would not enter into a coalition with it. One of the People's Party posters during the election showed a typical young Danish girl with the caption, When she retires, Denmark will have a Muslim majority.