European Misunderstanding

By André Gauron; Keith Torjoc | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Genesis of a Misunderstanding

“Europe will be unified by currency, or it will not be unified.” In 1949, the economist Jacques Rueff, the father of the French monetary reform of 1958, stated what would become the creed of every French government. Forty years later François Mitterrand echoed him, declaring that “the Economic and Monetary Union is the necessary route toward political union.”1 Since the beginning of the construction of Europe, France conceived of economic integration as the means of making Europe. The common market, the single market, the Economic and Monetary Union were to be stages in this inexorable drive toward political union. If a politically unified Europe is the final goal, the only possible means is to build the economic and monetary foundation step by step. President Mitterand intended to take this vast enterprise, begun by President Pompidou with the creation of the European currency “Snake” symbol and continued by his successor with the creation of the European Monetary System, to its conclusion. Michel Rocard added the citizen dimension: “What could be better than the unification of the currency symbols to create that feeling of shared membership that politics fails to inspire?” he asked. If that is true, then “how” it is done is less important than the goal, and the adoption of the “single currency” is more important than the conditions necessary for it to be viable.

“In the year 2000, we will still be able to pay in marks.”2 Hans Tietmeyer, President of all-powerful Bundesbank, the central bank of Germany, was not the type to have doubts. One year after the “passage

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