For decades the implementation of a single European currency was seen by its advocates as a vital step in the post-World War II movement toward greater European integration. As Ashoka Mody
details in Eurotragedy: A Drama in Nine Acts
(Oxford University Press, 2018), however, the euro that emerged was built on a dangerously flawed set of assumptions, ones which have made the euro a key factor in the continent’s ongoing economic problems. First proposed by French leaders in the 1960s, the idea of a single European currency was viewed by them as a way of shoring up their presence in the global economy. Though German politicians and bankers were initially resistant to implementing such a currency, this changed during the chancellorship of Helmut Kohl. As he grappled with the resistance to German reunification at the end of the Cold War, Kohl embraced the single currency as a symbol of Germany’s commitment to European cooperation and over the course of the 1990s he shepherded its creation over the objections of economists and growing popular discontent with the idea. These concerns proved prescient in the years following the euro’s introduction in 1999, as the single currency deprived participating nations of the ability to employ devaluation as a national response to global competition, creating added economic issues that have sharpened political tensions throughout the continent ever since.