EU leaders past and present pay homage to the Euro
During a ceremony in the plenary to commemorate 20 years of the Euro, the currency’s popularity and its role in strengthening the EU’s stance in the world were regularly highlighted.
Opening the ceremony, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani pointed out that 75% of citizens approve of the Euro, the highest popularity rating ever. He underlined that it has made life easier in many ways and provided protection during the financial crisis.
Jean-Claude Trichet, former President of the European Central Bank, praised the Euro for the credibility and stability it has delivered and also for its resilience during the financial crisis. The Euro, Mr Trichet pointed out, allowed growth rates to be comparable to those in the United States over the last two decades.
Current European Central Bank President Mario Draghi underlined that the Euro was an important tool in “being stronger together”. It was because numerous EU member states founded a common currency that they kept their voice on the global financial stage. Mr Draghi also praised the price stability brought about by the Euro, “even in countries where this was a long-lost memory”.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reminded the plenary that “two decades ago we were considered mad by many. We hear these critics little today”. Mr Juncker also told the audience that the hardship experienced in recent years was caused by long-overdue structural reforms, and not the Euro currency.
The President of the Eurogroup, Mário Centeno, said that the last few years had not been easy, but the Euro emerged from the crisis a stronger currency. He pointed out that the Euro is not an end in itself, but rather a tool with which to achieve a more inclusive society.
Roberto Gualtieri, the Chair of the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee, praised the Euro for making the deepening of the single market possible, allowing member states to recover sovereignty in the global order, and underpinning the peace project that is at the heart of the EU’s origin.
All speakers also recognised that the Euro was not perfect. Notably, the progress towards economic union needed to pick up pace. In the words of President Tajani, “We need to conclude the economic and monetary union. We cannot remain exposed in the middle of the road”.
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