Enter the Euro

While Europe celebrates its new common currency, Britain balks. What is the euro all about?
From the March-April 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Still bright in many a memory is how, at midnight, January 1, 2002, the sky over Europe lit up with celebrations. The next morning, though that historical moment had flashed by, the sense that something fundamental in the world had changed, for many, lingered as what they had felt in their skins in the buildup now surfaced in broad smiles!

For the average eurozone European, the euro—officially binding the key players of Europe to a common currency—was up and running. The biggest, most remarkable financial experiment ever was afloat and on course.

Some call the giant push forward the euro represents risky, even suicidal, while others call it brave and masterful. Whatever, there is no denying that since the launch of the euro, the march of events in Europe has almost become a gallop.

“On New Year’s Day, 14.25 billion notes (which, end to end, would stretch a quarter of a million miles) and 50 billion coins will begin to circulate in 12 countries. The sheer scale of the biggest financial revolution in history defies the most fertile of imaginations” (www.telegraph.co.uk, Dec. 16, 2001). One source stated that if the number of notes that had been printed by early January were laid end to end, they would stretch from the Earth to the moon and back twice!

In the runup to letting the euro loose as common currency, many businesses envisioned the launch as a simple concept with frighteningly complex consequences. In practice, the whole process went exceedingly smoothly.

As the experiment sprang to life on New Year’s Day, it immediately impacted, directly or indirectly, the lives of some 306 million Europeans. Euros were eagerly snapped up by citizens in the 12 eurozone countries. Belgium reported 600 withdrawals a minute from cash machines, while in France, 34 million euros had been withdrawn by 9 a.m. Long lines of excited Spaniards formed in banks and spilled out into the streets.

Despite generous provisions, it soon became clear that there wouldn’t be enough euros to meet the demand in some major Spanish retail outlets. The Bank of Spain had to meet the shortfall. This scenario was repeated in other countries. The Dutch central bank had to start an emergency delivery when some supermarkets ran out of the new currency.

Perhaps the most negative comment was about the way some business establishments took advantage of the new currency to put up their prices when rounding off amounts. There were also inevitable small glitches, such as vending machines that needed to be adapted to the new coins.

Initial Feelers

Experts generally agree that the euro’s performance will depend largely on the dollar. Like a seesaw, if the dollar recovers strongly, that could be bad news for the euro. If the dollar slides, the opposite would be true.

There is hope throughout Europe that within the European market the euro will automatically lead to increased competition (through greater transparency and lower transaction costs) and greater flexibility and mobility in the work force—which would consolidate and strengthen its performance. Other important factors to watch for are: the measures taken by the Central European Bank to stimulate the economy, the performance of eurozone countries to keep their economies stable within the agreed limits, and economic growth within the euro market.

The actual physical presence of the euro itself isn’t expected to play that much of a role in the development of the currency, because it has been around for some time. What counts is how it competes with other means of exchange on the world market, particularly the dollar and the yen. However, the positive response to the euro among the 12 nations adopting it may also prove an important stimulus toward its development. Public perception of a currency goes a long way in determining its success or failure.

Eurozone nations have benefited from an intense period of preparation for the euro. Even from the early drawing-board stage, the EU spent a fortune on education and preparation by means of well-orchestrated publicity campaigns through national and local authorities, concentrating especially on the immense powers of television and the Internet. Teaching about the euro became a part of most school syllabi, and the banking system and industry benefited from intensive preparation programs. In Spain, the Garcias, a family of cute, animated cartoon figures, appeared for months before e-day in adverts on all the major TV channels, and quickly became synonymous with national preparation for the big event. A similar effort was put into publicizing the euro in the other 11 eurozone countries.

The acceptance of the euro in the eurozone can be qualified as nothing short of a remarkable success. Only Germany officially made a clean break with its currency and adopted the euro immediately; other countries had been given a two-month adaptation period. Yet the European Commission estimated that, against all expectations, even before the end of the first week in January, the majority of shoppers in the eurozone were already paying in euros.

The euro has entered the world market aggressively. While at present it could be considered the second major currency in the world, few in Europe want it to stay that way for long. They would like to knock the dollar off its pinnacle. They would like to see most of the world’s barrels of oil bought in euros instead of dollars.

Badgered to Join the Club

Most British citizens, however, don’t want to see a silver lining in the euro cloud hanging over them. While the American press barely mentioned this important and challenging monetary phenomenon, the British were busily trying to pour cold water on a revolutionary new currency which could eventually pull the carpet out from under their trusty sterling. Some vendors even refused to accept euros on principle. A January 2 www.telegraph.co.uk article quoted one British vendor as saying, “I’m dead against it. … I don’t believe in the euro and won’t take it. I hope we never adopt it in Britain.”

Nevertheless, while the euro is not legal tender in the British Isles, the first few weeks of January saw about a third of the bigger retailers accepting it as payment.

Germany would like Britain to adopt the euro. Though Germany’s public position is that Britain’s entry would help strengthen the currency, students of the EU project see more sinister reasons for this. Hans Eichel, Germany’s finance minister, has said, “Britain belongs to Europe, and Europe would be poorer without Britain.” In a recent interview with the Telegraph, he dished out the following enticing words: “It is our wish that Britain joins. We cannot imagine a united Europe without the complete participation of Britain” (Jan. 17).

At the same time, Mr. Eichel—in a statement that should startle any sensitive American observer, stated of Britain that “‘national eccentricity’ would be an obstacle to Europe’s ambition to become ‘the most dynamic economic area in the world’” (ibid.).

When asked if he had anything to say to help the British love the euro, Eichel replied that he had—the queen! “We have left room for her!” he declared. “The British should have no fear. When we designed the coins, we were already thinking of British membership.” One side would be left for national symbols and, in Britain’s case, it would no doubt be the queen’s head.

EU powers may propose to place the queen’s head on one side of a euro coin, but in a sense, with the Maastricht Treaty, the queen as head of state in Britain was already lost to them when royal rights and privileges that had taken centuries of proud tradition to entrench within the British Constitution were signed away in seconds (see p. 9).

Though they may be deceived into thinking so now, Britain will never form a part of the elite, inner core of eurozone nations.

The Daniel Prophecy

Those who identify with the ambition for a united Europe are rejoicing over the success of the launch of the euro. Having it in their hands is like the first tangible, palpable, physical evidence in their everyday lives of the union for many people.

Twice in recent European history, the process of economic union cementer under a single currency has been envisioned. Kaiser Wilhelm united Germany in the 19th century by a similar process. And it was Hitler’s dream in the 20th century. Sir Peter Tapsell reminded voters in his election leaflet for his Louth and Horncastle constituency in the UK, “A single European currency was first proposed by the Nazi Reichsbank to Hitler at the time of Dunkirk as a means of perpetuating German dominance in Europe. Now it is EU policy.” Events in the EU are moving along faster than ever!

We’ve written frequently in the Trumpet about the prophecy of 10 nations or groups of nations rising up in union in this end time, and that, as the prophecy in Daniel 2 states, they are as different as iron and clay.

A common currency—however unifying—cannot hold this iron and clay together. Umberto Bossi, leader of Italy’s League of the North, can see the difficulty that a united Europe faces: “The problem isn’t the debate over the euro, but the idea of creating a European constitution. It can’t be treated in the same way as the launch of the euro has been. It can’t be imposed from above. In Europe at least 20 languages are spoken. I ask: Can we talk about community if we speak different languages, and read different newspapers? Can we refer to common public opinion?” (translated from El País, Jan. 15).

Many questions will soon be answered as the EU rushes to live out its destiny—questions like, will Britain, along with Sweden and Denmark, end up joining the euro? Britain has already lost so much of its identity in the crucible of Europe. Could it really, in one final, desperate gesture, give up the sterling for good, and all that entails? Then, lagging behind a powerful core of eurozone nations which possess the upper hand, could Britain be expected to prosper within the strictures of the euro and in the process still preserve its national identity?

The British government, like a house divided, is split down the middle over the euro dilemma, while Tony Blair, when he isn’t making preposterous claims that become headlines in newspapers like La Repubblica (“We British, Leaders in Europe Even If We Don’t Use the Euro”), swings back to his position of seeking to bully the British, against majority opinion, to use it.

To add to the banter, men like Europe Minister Peter Hain are playing up the claim that the sterling could find it impossible to survive alongside the euro. The fact that over 300 million people in 12 countries (with which Britain forms an increasingly strange dancing partnership) are now using euro notes and coins is sending alarm signals throughout the nation.

Yet again, the Trumpet magazine has shown on repeated occasions—with the certainty of Bible prophecy, which cannot fail—that even if the British were to join the euro currency (and one of the world’s largest investment banks has forecast that it will after a referendum), Britain wouldn’t stay the course for long. Sooner or later the UK will even separate itself from, or be thrown out of, the EU.

Beyond the Euro

The question arises: With Germany, at the center of the EU, suffering at present from recession, how will the Fatherland pull the euro up to world prominence, rather than down to failure? German ambitions are centered on opening up the eastern leg of Europe to the EU, with the idea of enriching and bolstering their own economy and further consolidating their position as big gun in Europe.

The other eurozone countries don’t seem too concerned by the economic difficulties Germany is facing. In fact, by the end of the first week of the euro becoming common currency, the main topic of conversation among European mps was no longer even the launch of the euro, but who will be the next president of the European Parliament! The general consensus appears to be that the position should go to the biggest eurozealot among the candidates.

Umberto Bossi’s point is a difficult one to sidestep, however. How will these nations hold together, given their many differences? The answer is as plain as it is astounding: a universal religion! (Rev. 17:1-5).

What’s rising in Europe is none other than that old “holy” Roman Empire.

The leader of an earlier resurrection of this ancient beastly power had the same vision as EU leaders have today. As a prisoner after his downfall, on the island of Helena, Napoleon reminisced, “I wanted to found a European system, a European code of laws, a European judiciary. There would have been but one people throughout Europe.” That’s the same vision Hitler had a little over 60 years ago.

One last time, a power-drunk European leader will take his infamous place in history. He will be worse than Hitler. Under his lead, and with the collusion of the Roman Catholic Church binding the 10 groups of nations together, Europe will briefly achieve world domination. Order our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire to learn how these events will signify the imminence of the glorious return of Jesus Christ.