An extract from Europe’s Orphan. The Future of the Euro and the Politics of Debt by Martin Sandbu (Princeton University Press, 2017), reproduced with permission. The Italian translation of the book will be published by LUISS University Press.
By arguing that there is no alternative to their policies, lest the euro fails, the Eurozone leaders have produced a useful decoy for their own mistakes. But since the “remorseless logic” endorses the notion that the euro was designed with dangerous and unsustainable flaws, these leaders have by the same token relegated their common currency to the status of an inconvenient foundling.
Hard to love, quietly wished away by many, and all but impossible to expel, the euro has been disowned by its own kin. The loftiest aspiration Europe seems able to muster for its own creation is that a thorough reform of its character will make something good of it yet. But just as an orphan inconveniently dumped on its relatives arouses resentment and guilt rather than love, an orphaned euro cannot inspire loyalty or affection.
Citizens of democratic societies expect to be authors of their collective destiny, not aimless elements of remorseless logic. The more often Europeans are told they have no choice, the more their resentment towards the euro will grow.
This book refutes the claim that there is no alternative, within the euro, to greater transfers of resources and more tightly centralized control over national policy autonomy. It rejects the supposedly remorseless logic as being neither remorseless not logical. Instead, it aims to show that the disastrous political and economic experience of so many Eurozone countries was caused by policymakers’ entirely avoidable errors.
The structure of the euro, as a monetary union without a fiscal union, did not force their hand: they retained alternative policy options that would have had much better results, economically and politically, than the ones they actually pursued. Had leaders made better choices, worries of a currency break-up would never have been awakened.