It was in the interests of France and Germany to lock themselves and subsequently a number of other ill fated smaller European countries into the restrictive and binding currency - the Euro. The idea was originally muted as early as 1929 by Gustav Stresemann but it wasn't until 1989 that France extracted German commitment to reunification, and then President Delors put forward a three point plan which laid out the path to the EMU. The euro was finally launched Jan 1 1999, and became legal tender Jan 1 2002 when it replaced the old national currencies. 12 of 15 European countries are now members.
Greece succeeded in getting clearance to join the euro on Jan 1 2001 by faking its deficit figures. 4 Smaller countries have joined 2005-2009, and Estonia is likely to join 2011.
Ireland joined Jan 1 2005. It is predominantly Ireland and Greece who are now feeling the strain due to the effects of bad economy and bad monetary policies. Ireland and Greece may leave the euro in 2011. Spain, Portugal and Belgium are also in trouble! The wonderful dream for joint European currency was an idea probably sketched out on the back of an envelope by a politician. It would enmesh countries who had totally differing ways of doing things, totally different cultures. It was a ridiculous dream. At first Greece and Ireland had plenty of money to spare, in fact they were awash with money.They behaved like children in a sweetie shop, corruption was rife,and now all the money has gone! Britain is deeply embroiled in the fate of the euro, so we are having to bail out Ireland - (at the moment). Germany ploughs ahead calling the shots, dragging the French poodle behind it. France's moment will come! They too have, and are, spending far far too much on their 'State' systems. What a relief Britain didn't join the Euro, - several of our politicians wanted to, including the 2 Clarkes. Anyway, we now have our own set of serious financial problems, largely due to a profligate Newlabour government who failed, under Brown to keep their eye on expenditure. Labour always leave the country in debt. This time they've done it good and proper!
I suggest a kindly action Britain could make to Greece. Return the Elgin Marbles forthwith! Neil Macgregor are you listening?!
As for Ireland, we are loaning them cash, couldn't the wealthy Irish in the great USofA be magnanimous and hand over money to help out, after all they were quick enough to do this when they wanted a unified Ireland.
Apologies for this blog, am no economist!