Honeymoon over for Europeans and their money
The euro, rolled out as a cash currency with a string of promises about easy travel, European unity and stable prices, has left crisis-rattled consumers decidedly ambivalent a decade on.
On the streets of Berlin, Madrid, and Bratislava, the view is similar: despite its clear upsides, the transition to the euro hiked the cost of living even as it introduced deep political and economic uncertainty in the bloc.
The euro, the most tangible manifestation of European integration in everyday life, has become a symbol of the debt crisis and the economic downturn.
“Since we rolled out the euro in France, we gave up our purchasing power,” fumes Viviane Vangic, 37, in the Paris city centre.
Eighty-five percent of Germans believe that the euro has pushed up prices, according to a recent survey.
And Maria Angeles in Madrid says that “when we went to the euro, what used to cost 100 pesetas now costs a euro” or 160 pesetas.
Although the statistics do not bear out this impression, showing about two-percent inflation each year over the last decade, the accusation of a built-in price hike is widespread among those who remember their old currency.
This is particularly true among the newcomers to the euro.
“All the prices have gone up since we adopted the euro. It has always been hard for pensioners to make ends meet,” says Elena, a 72-year-old in Bratislava, Slovakia, which adopted the euro in 2009.
“But now young families are also struggling to make a living.”
Younger Europeans, who are suffering from disproportionately high unemployment in many countries, have little memory of their national currencies and take the euro for granted.
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Category: World News |