Accounting for around one quarter of the world's currency reserves (26.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011) and as the second-most actively traded currency, the euro has established itself as the second most important international currency, just behind the US dollar.
Reality in the eurozone – stability and transparency thanks to the euro
Over the past 10 years, the euro has provided the member states with better protection against inflation than their national currencies did – inflation is lower compared with the US dollar, too.
The euro has also created price transparency, promoted market integration and guarded Europe against exchange rate fluctuations. Since its launch, well in excess of 12 million new jobs have been created in Europe, higher growth than in other economies, such as the US. The single currency stands for access to a large, powerful, diversified domestic market with around 500 million consumers. The EU domestic market and the single currency are irrefutably two factors that help to affirm Europe's values in the struggle for the future of globalization.
Euro – quo vadis?
Hardly any other issue has attracted so much public attention as the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone has over the past one-and-a-half years. In the fourth year following the outbreak of the international financial crisis, fiscal policy has gone from being a stability anchor to a risk factor. The eurozone is facing a crucial test, with capital market confidence in European periphery states (Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain) on the wane. So what sort of future lies ahead for this project, which is still in its infancy?
Today, the euro is an integral part of economic, social and political structures within the EU and is also a key tool for increasing the advantages of the domestic market, trading policy and political collaboration.
For this reason alone, the disintegration of the eurozone cannot be the solution to our current problems. Rather, economic policy has to concentrate on reducing debt, strengthening economic growth in the long term by making structural reforms, and improving the overall institutional framework in the eurozone. If we do our homework in these areas, the euro should emerge from the crisis with new-found strength.
The EU member states have learned important lessons from the financial and economic crisis this year – so there is no need to mope around or to refuse to celebrate the euro's 10th birthday.
The key foundations currently being laid by European economic policy are what is important now. The sooner the summit resolutions are implemented, the sooner it will become clear that the new regulations go hand-in-hand with major thematic changes.
In addition to stringent stability criteria, with sanctions on non-compliance being imposed by the EU, far-reaching growth reforms and consolidation moves in those countries that are grappling with debt are essential.
Today, the EU is far more successfully than could ever have been imagined back in March 1957, when the Treaty of Rome was signed. This is more than reason to appreciate the EU's achievements over the last 50 years – and to raise our glasses to the euro's 10th birthday.