The European Union created the euro in order to unite as many member states as possible under one currency. However, according to research by Franz Buscha, Professor of Economics at Westminster Business School, the currency union has done the complete opposite and this is only being exacerbated by the turmoil in Catalonia.
“The Catalonia referendum has deepened cracks in the EU’s plan for greater integration, driving debate around identity across the continent. Among the policies implemented in the earlier days of the EU was the adoption of the euro, intended to provide a common currency and link the European nations together,” said Buscha.
“However, according to our latest research, the introduction of the single currency has not created a European identity and a sense of unity in the EU.”
Buscha was the principal investigator of the research “Can a common currency foster a shared social identity across different nations? The case of the euro,” featured in the peer-reviewed European Economic Review. He worked in partnership with the University of Innsbruck and Queensland University of Technology. They examined two decades worth of data from Eurobarometer, a survey monitoring the evolution of public opinion conducted on behalf of the European Commission, over a time span of 20 years, analysing over 350,000 individual responses.
Buscha and the rest of the team emphasized that the creation of the euro was championed by politicians to create “an ever close union” and by creating a currency union, it would “foster a pan-European identity, a shared feeling of ‘European-ness’ that would add to, if not replace, existing national identities.” They found that there was “very little or no evidence” of the euro giving individuals living in EU member states a united European identity in the short or long-term.
“In spite of these high expectations, the euro does not appear to have been a major factor in building a common European identity over the last 15 years; it can be argued that either the build-up of a shared European identity takes place on a much longer time scale (if at all), or that other institutional innovations are needed to create this ‘shared’ identity,” said Buscha.
The research falls in line with a study by German-based foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung that surveyed 10,755 people from all EU member countries, which found that most Europeans are still unhappy with the EU. The only upside for the bloc is that while most are deeply unhappy, like Italians, most would vote to stay in the EU, if there was a referendum.