Saturday, 8 November 2008

Time for UK to think the unthinkable on euro - MacShane

It is time to think about Britain joining the euro, according to former Europe minister Denis MacShane, speaking at a Fabian conference.
"The euro has been a godsend during the current economic crisis", he said, and had probably saved runs on currencies in Italy, Spain, Greece and even France.
"The euro has proved its worth as an international currency. What does Gordon Brown say. It's time to think the unthinkable," said MacShane, a panellist at the America Votes, Europe Responds conference.
Foreign office minister Bill Rammell said he expected to see a co-ordinated effort from European powers during the economic downturn.


Fabian-Blogger said...

I think both Denis MacShane and Bill Rammell made an important point. With Obama's election there's potentially a window opening for a new multilateralism. But Europe must be prepared to grasp this, as reserves of patience in the White House will only last so long.

Denis observed that if Europe looks askance at a US call for increased troop assistance in Afghanistan, then this could breed real resentment in the corridors of the West Wing.

Jean Lambert struck a sceptical note about a real lack of enthusiasm within the key European capityas to offer up more blood and treasure in the struggle against the Taliban - and suggested Obama's aides actually appreciated this.

Sunder Katwala said...

I see Tom Harris has responded to Denis on his blog:

If the government sees a fresh case for adoption of the euro (and I’m not convinced the case is any more compelling now than at any point in the past), then voters will decide whether or not that case is persuasive enough. If, as seems likely, the government’s policy remains unchanged, there will be no referendum and we will stick with the pound.

Calix said...

I personally agree this may be the time to 'think the untinkable' and seriously consider joining the Euro. I am writing partly in response to Will Hutton's Observer piece today. He believes that 'the five tests for entry set by Gordon Brown are now met 100 per cent.' When the tests were originally mooted I bet Gordon Brown never considered they would be met in his premiership, but it would be a sign of strength and an open mind if he would now re-consider. After all, we need politicians to think boldly and at times counter-intuitively. In contrast, Will Hutton says Gordon Brown has dismissed debate about this issue which, if true, is a depressing response.

My instincts have always been in favour of the Euro from the point of view of simple logic in addition to my beliefs in integration. The Euro is a currency that can (and is) be one of the strongest and most resilient in the world economy.

From a political point of view I also think this may be the time for Brown to move. He is creeping back in the polls - this shows that people have a grudging respect for his financial judgement in difficult times. If he made a strong argument about British benefits, immediate and long-term, a 'join the Euro' campaign could be his master-stroke.