In retrospect, the vote of the Italian parliament on December 7th in which it approved the country’s 2019 budget may be a historical one. Instead of the minimum required 275 votes for a majority, 330 MPs approved the government’s economic policy. One might say they picked up the gauntlet thrown by the Brussels who threatened with sanctions if the deficit is not reduced substantially.
Now the ball is with Brussels: they can either punish Italy – thereby further fueling resentment – or be lenient, in which case other countries like Spain and France could also loosen their budget discipline. The latter, in turn, would either lead to the collapse of the single currency or a hardline stance from Germany.
A discussion on the actual merits of the euro can no longer be postponed.The currency has caused economic decline in several member states and such decline will inevitably lead to political rejection. The Italian government concluded that their society can no longer tolerate the financial and monetary dictates of Brussels and did what it promised it would do: restart the engines of the economy.
While it is not a widely discussed topic, the protests of the “yellow vests” in France are also a result of the euro, as pointed out by a statement of 19 French intellectuals – including a number of economists. But the majority in France still considers the euro a taboo, thus meaningful discussions about it are out of the question. Everybody seems to be afraid to disturb the status quo.
But is becoming increasingly clear that without the return to the national currency, France will soon run out of options. Thus the issue must discussed as often as possible and by as many people as possible, be they Francophiles or Francophobes.