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20 years on — has the euro been a success?

Euro sculpture in front of the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany
Euro sculpture in front of the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Hermione Gee
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On the 20th anniversary of the currency, Euronews speaks to economist Duncan Weldon about how successful the euro has been and what we can expect next from the currency.


It’s been 20 years since the euro was created on January 1, 1998.

Today, three-quarters of people in the eurozone are in favour of the euro, the highest number since 2004 — apparently dispelling the impression of rising anti-European sentiment in many countries.

But the financial crises of the past decade revealed defects in its architecture that member countries are still trying to address. Reform is slow — and the gap between rich and poor member states remains large.

But has it achieved its aims of making trade within the EU easier? And what issues does the currency still face?

Euronews' Isabelle Kumar spoke to economist Duncan Weldon to find out.

Weldon said that on one level, the euro has definitely been a success. 

"When we think back, it's extraordinary. We've got no real example in the modern world of that number of countries coming together, choosing to share their currency, choosing to pool that level of sovereignty. So the very fact it survived 20 years is on one level exceptional," he said. 

But, he added, it hasn't always been smooth sailing.

"The problems that began in 2009-10, that hit Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Spain — The eurozone had a very, very tough five or six years. We saw that problem of [having] the same monetary policy but the appropriate interest rates for Germany were not necessarily the appropriate interest rates for Greece or Spain."

So what next?

"Since 2015, there has been a real recovery in European growth, growth for the last couple of years has been decent. In the short term, the euro is out of the danger zone," Weldon said. 

"The important thing to remember is that even in countries that have had really tough economic times — Greece, Italy, etc — public support for the euro remains very strong."

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