Starting Jan. 1 more than 300 million people in Europe began the adjustment to the new money in their pockets, wallets and purses. During two months of transition, Europeans may use old national currencies alongside the euro. However, after Feb. 28 only the euro will be accepted as legal tender in the 12 nations.
For most Europeans the initial change will be limited to getting used to new coins and bills. For the first time in the history of the European Union (EU), citizens of participating countries will be able to make quick, clear price comparisons across national borders. Within the 12 nations it will no longer be necessary to exchange money when visiting other countries.
Much less noticeable than the highly visible exchange of banknotes will be the inevitable realignment of national sovereignty resulting from the euro's introduction. Control over national currency has always been vital to a country's national sovereignty.
With the euro, however, monetary policy cedes to the European Central Bank (ECB), which as a supragovernmental agency already determines key interest rates and will set money-supply levels for all 12 countries in the euro zone. The national banks of those nations are in essence now mere vassals of the ECB, implementing its policies on a national level.
The sovereignty issue is one of the main reasons some in noneuro EU countries such as Britain are reluctant to join the monetary union. There is no question that exchanging the British pound sterling for the euro would mean a loss of independence for the United Kingdom.
The other key element in influencing the value of national currency remains in the hands of each national government: economic policies. Critics of the euro have warned for several years that the euro may experience difficulty in becoming a stable hard currency unless economic policy is coordinated among euro countries in the same way that monetary policy is determined by the ECB, for, after the euro's introduction, there will be no return to national currencies without irreparable damage to the European Union.
The question, then: What nation will supply the steady hand needed to guide the economic policies of the euro zone to monetary stability? If this currency experiment is successful, the inevitable result will be more political sovereignty transferred from the 12 national governments to the European Union.
Indeed, when it was announced in December that the euro had won the International Charlemagne Prize for 2002 (a prestigious award normally given annually to people or groups seen as most greatly contributing to European unity), prize-committee spokesman Walter Eversheim said: "From January 2002, the euro will be far more than the single currency for Europe. It will contribute to a common European identity [and] foster peace."
Unknown to most people, however, these moves toward forging a European superstate will not lead to peace but ultimately the opposite. To understand the biblical significance of these developments, read the cover article "Who Will Be the Next Superpower?" in the May-June Good News and request our free booklets You Can Understand Bible Prophecy and The Book of Revelation Unveiled. (Sources: The Daily Telegraph [London], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.)