Question of the week: if the euro dies, will Europe go with it?

Article published on Sept. 27, 2011
Article published on Sept. 27, 2011

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Everyone's talking about saving the euro - but is money really the only thing holding us together? That's this week's theme on Europa plus, cafebabel.com's project with German TV channel ZDF. Four young Europeans tell us what they think: add your two (euro) cents at here before Thursday 29 September!

The Palestine national authoritysent a chair looking like one of those that prop up the UN general assembly over to the United Nations in New York. I suggest we get the European seat at the UN back over to the continent on the double - because we all need to have a sit-down, all seventeen members of the eurozone on each other's laps, and stroke each other's hair.

This question is a peripheral one. There is no chance of Europe going down with the euro, because what is sorely lacking is a sense of leadership, and we can do it! Why can't a group who have pledged unity manage to solve the problem which once bound seventeen countries as a unit? Is it because that problem threatens to destroy their core being? The EU has been a reality for over fifty years; something was bound to go wrong somewhere and with the selfish state of the world we live in, it was going to be economy more than culture or society. Certainly the latter two threaten our identity as 'Europeans' because we are so stuck to the nations of being national states first and member states second. But that hasn't destroyed Europe yet, its built its identity. So will any kind of death of the euro. I speak from an ideological perspective as I am no economic expert. Are we only Europeans because we share (invisible, in some case) borders and the same scrap of continent?

If we won't get that chair over from Palestine, look at the rotating chair in Russia. Putin and Medvedev might keep role swapping for the rest of their days as president and prime minister, but, and this is despite their fishy ways, they got one thing right: how to stay in the driving seat, and not flounder.

Emory Jenner, Dublin, Ireland

The euro is not just a currency, it's a symbol. It's not as strong a symbol as Schengen is (some EU-countries have preserved their national currencies) so I don't think the collapse of the eurozone would provoke the immediate disintegration of the EU. But it would be a step back in some sense, and as the EU already finds it difficult to move forward, I think abandoning the euro could be an indirect reason for EU to regress and, within few years, collapse.

Aleksandra Sygiel, cafebabel.com Polish editor

I personally wish that someone in Europe would finally have the courage to say openly and honestly: people, there is no alternative to the euro! The idea of leaving the eurozone is pure populism – and that’s true of all parties throughout Europe who consider his option. Marine Le Pen (from the populist right-wing Front National) may want the franc back in France, but she hasn’t explained to her voters how that should work. Europe has an awful reputation – and ALL current governments of the 27 member states contribute to that. This is because people only ever think in the short term – until the next elections in their own country. It’s like a domestic politics chess move. The bone of contention which is the euro will show that in a globalised world Europe can only affirm itself when it is together.

Katha Kloss, cafebabel.com German editor

Let’s be serious for once – do we really want our national currencies back? I certainly don’t. And that’s not just because I enjoy the fact that I don’t have exchange currencies when I go abroad anymore. I see the common currency simply as the next step in the process of integration. That isn’t just economic integration but also the process of political integration. We’ve already made many steps in this direction and it certainly isn’t just the euro which holds the EU together (or which lets it break apart). Personally I believe for example that the Bologna process and the harmonization of European universities is a more important and above all more future-orientated move in the direction of more integration and European unity. With exchange programmes like Erasmus and the Leonardo da Vinci programme, the younger generation in particular are growing up with a new European consciousness. Now however politics and its decisions are also needed for the creation of a European unity – but to abandon the euro would in my opinion be the wrong decision!

Claudia, Vienna, Austria

Image: main (cc) Monceau/Flickr