Slovene two-euro coin, featuring France Prešeren, previously the star of a 1000-tolar banknote. Photo: Primož Lavre, source
No, this is not a sob-story about the demise of Slovenian tolar. Neither is this a praise for the common European currency, the euro. It is, rahter, a real-politik based look upon the official admission of Slovenia to Economic and Monetary Union (falsely known as European Monetary Union).
The most obvious effect of this is of course the adoption of euro as Slovenian currency. Slovenia will also transfer a part of its monetary sovereignity to a collective body of European Central Bank, which by means of consensus formy monetary policies for all members of the EMU. Slovenian economy will thus from midnight tonight officially become a part of one of the largest single markets in the world – especially in terms of purchasing power.
Single monetary unit is an extremely important step in creating a sence of internal and external sovereignity. In mid-seventies Henry Kissinger uttered a sad-but-true sentence: “Europe? Who do I call?”. While this is still the case in foreing politics, where member-states refuse to transfer foreign policy powers to Brussells, the question has been solved in monetary area. The Governer of Federal Reserves can now call the Governor of the ECB. EU (or at least, members of the EMU) is at the early stages of external monetary sovereignity (external in this case meaning that it is recognised as a legitimate player by other players). By people actually using the currency – banknotes and coins – the EU is (slowly, but still) also gaining internal sovereignity: being recognized as a legitimate player by its citizens. The process is slow, paintful and not at all even in all areas. Luckily, I might add… Allow me to elucidate with refference to specifics:
I always saw the EU as an entirely Marxist concept. According to Karl any given society is shaped (created, if you will) first by establishing an economic infrastructure, which is followed by a social superstructure. European Union is a text-book expample of this. If we skip the early forms of European economic cooperation (the Coal and Steel Community), we see that the “original” EU (the twelve member states) at first formed European Economic Community (EEC). While it may seem normal from today’s point of view (with the World Trade Organisation and such), the fact that member states were not charging customs for nearly all products imported from another member state was revolutionary for that time (nearly a decade later, in 1992, Slovenia recorded a historic budget surplus, precisely because of charged customs for foreign products).
Now in the years following, the EU jumped a bit ahead of itself. While it may have seemed that adoption the euro and formally declaring a single market was enough in terms of creating an economic infrastructure, allowing the then leaders to eagerly concoct a social superstructure, the truth is that not enough has been done.
While I strongly support further expansion of the EU, which in my opinion must at least include entire Balkan Peninsulla and Turkey (more on that on some other occasion), the same amount of effort (if not more) must be put into actually making the common economy work. Euro is a big step, but it is not enough. Things will not just happen on their own. More must be done to persuade Great Britain to join the eurozone and help other EU members to achieve criteria to join the euro-zone. The benefit will be two-fold: firstly, the fact that one of the hottest economies of the world adopted the euro would be a great boost to both internal and external sovereignity of the EU and secondly, more eurozone members means a bigger common currency market, more business opportunities, etc, etc… To summarise: while building the social superstructure of the EU must continue, the economic infrastructure of the union must be strengtened. To put it in construction terms: The current foundations cannont bear the weight of the structure and must strengthened “toot-suit”, and at the same time the works on the structure must go on. A daunting task, I know… But if one of the two fails to materialize I fear the worst…
So for once I’m glad that my sorry little country where the rule of law was recently raped and mutilated, where minorities are endangered, where the terms “state media” became popular again and where a ban on abortion can still become a proposed government policy, that for once this country did the right thing and did all it can do to forward the European idea – although I believe Europe stands for ideals different than those of the current Slovene government.
P.S.: Happy 2007 to everybody… Whatever the weather, we (always) weather the weather, whether we like it or not…