I saw a rather alarming story this week which was just a few lines on our Reuters news service; German telephone boxes are being refitted so that they can Deutsche Marks again. The story said that it was only for a few months and was basically so that Germans could rid themselves of all their old coins. But it got be thinking...its abit late in the day to ask for old coins especially as the euro has now been with us for three years. Coupled with the fact that German bankers allegedly discussed a possible failure of the European currency it just got me thinking that perhaps our new currency is not as safe as we believe. It is nonsence ofcourse, the President of the European Central Bank has said so, but after a week of two major setbacks in European referendums, the future of Europe looks very much in doubt. This is how serious the No votes in France and Holland have been and the results cannot be brushed under the carpet as just voter dissatisfaction in both countries. Europeans are not happy. That is clearly evident. It was clear in Spain where only a handful of people voted for the Constitution and it is crystal clear in France, Holland and Britain. Why are Europeans so concerned? I believe that they are worried that the pace of European integration is going too fast and they suspect that the new members states have just joined to get on the Brussels gravy train. Also, we must look at mainland European's economy. Germany has been on the brink of recession for the last five years, Italy is in recession and France, Holland, Portugal and Spain are suffering. So far there has been no European economic miracle. The Germans, the financial powerhouse behind European integration, appear to be losing heart. Its quite unstandable. Unemployment is close to the five million mark and thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost this year alone. On the eve of the introduction of the euro, I was talking with a German holidaymaker, who proudly showed me his euros and said that they were prepared to pay higher taxes for the sake of Europe's economic dream. Very comendable but lets not forget that its Germany's giant economy which makes most things in Europe possible. The time for reflection has certainly arrived. While financially the introduction of the euro was a success we have all seen how prices have almost doubled in the space of three years. All of a sudden 1 euro is 100 pesetas. Who is being blamed, not the people who at fault the shopkeepers and businesspeople who did a nice rouding off process but the single currency and the European Union. This is a sad state affairs and when your economy is suffering it becomes even more serious. Go anywhere across Europe at the moment and people are moaning about the cost of living thanks to the euro. I believe that instead of watching the financial markets the European Central Bank should have been observing what has happening at their bar or shop on the corner. This is one of the reasons why Europe is not working. Its all going far too fast. One step at a time, would be nice and some price control would be even better. I believe in Europe and I believe in our single currency and it is a great shame that Europe is now in crisis because Brussels is trying to hurry on the whole process. Europe must declare that the Constitution is dead and there must be a period of consolidation. There is obviously something seriously wrong with Europe and until the concerns of the people are overcome then the dream must be put on hold.
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