Christine Lagarde says the EU has ‘exceptional tools to use’
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This week the ECB announced its first major overhaul of the paper money since it entered circulation 20 years ago. A complex multi-stage design process for the new notes will involve consultations with the 19 EU member states that use the Euro. ECB President Christine Lagarde claimed the plans to bring in new notes were aimed at being more inclusive. She said: “After 20 years, it’s time to review the look of our banknotes to make them more relatable to Europeans of all ages and backgrounds.”
However, the financial chief also appeared to suggest that the Euro served the purpose of creating greater EU integration.
The ECB President said: “Euro banknotes are here to stay.
“They are a tangible and visible symbol that we stand together in Europe, particularly in times of crisis, and there is still a strong demand for them.”
Ms Lagarde’s view of the Euro was seized upon by Matthew Lynn as a “stepping stone” towards greater EU integration, an example of the bloc trying to consolidate its power, and perhaps even trying to prevent another Brexit.
The journalist has written extensively about finance, including the book, ‘Bust: Greece, The Euro and The Sovereign Debt Crisis’.
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Writing for the Spectator this week, he explained how the Euro was launched digitally in 1999 as a stable, efficient currency that was an alternative to the dollar.
But Mr Lynn also added: “To its cheerleaders, however, it was always much more than that.
“It was meant to be a stepping stone towards a single state, a symbol of political unity, and a way of binding members together so tightly that it would be impossible for them to ever leave.
“The proposed redesign at least makes that explicit.”
Greater EU integration is on the agenda of some of the bloc’s largest member states, including France.
French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken of his wish to see increased alignment among member states in the fields of military and capital markets.
In Mario Draghi, the Italian Prime Minister, who was appointed this year, Mr Macron also has an ally for his vision of a more integrated Europe.
In response to the ECB’s plans to redesign the Euro notes, Mr Lynn questioned whether the bank did not have “more important stuff to worry about”.
He also suggested the ECB look at other issues such as setting up a “proper banking union” or dealing with Germany’s huge trade surplus.
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However, the expert was emphatic about the underlying motives behind the Euro as a currency.
He said: “The makeover will reveal the currency’s true colours as a vehicle for European integration rather than an effective instrument of economic policy.”
A final decision on the new Euro notes is not expected until 2024, according to the ECB.
Firstly, a series of focus groups will feed back to the ECB about what themes they would like to see incorporated into the new notes.
Experts from each Euro area country will then submit suggested themes to the ECB’s governing council.
The current Euro note designs are based on windows, doorways and bridges to represent tolerance and communication.
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