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Edited by Jonathan Michie
15 European integration and the ‘euro project’ Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer Introduction The euro was introduced as a ‘virtual’ currency in January 1999, and then as a ‘real’ currency in January 2002. There were 12 EU member countries adopting the euro in 2002, since joined by a further five other countries,1 and subsequently, but prior to the financial crisis of 2007–09, a number of other countries were on the road to joining. The creation of a single currency covering a substantial number of countries has been a significant step in the integration of the economies of those countries, which form the European Union (EU), and more notably for those who are part of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The adoption of the euro is not just a matter of a single currency now prevailing across the eurozone with reduced transactions costs for trade between member countries. It is more notable that the euro is embedded in a particular set of institutional and policy arrangements, which can tell us much about the nature of the economic integration processes in the EU. In this chapter, we examine the neo-liberal nature of the ideas, which are associated with the euro, and in light of the experiences of economic performance over the first decade or so of the euro, not forgetting the financial crisis of 2008–09, which has exposed the problematic nature of the policy structures of EMU. The adoption of the euro was a further step in a...
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