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The History of the European Monetary Union

Comparing Strategies amidst Prospects for Integration and National Resistance


Edited By Daniela Preda

The financial and economic crisis that hit Europe in 2009 brought out the precariousness of the monetary union, accentuating the economic disequilibrium among European nations and strengthening Euro-skepticism.

The crisis served as a catalyst for long-standing and unresolved problems: the creation of a singly monetary area with intergovernmental control, the final act in the construction of a Europe economically united but without a government and a state; the consequent discrepancy between forming a consensus that remains in large part national and the political dynamics in Europe; the sustainability of a monetary union in the absence of an economic-social union, which presents again the long-standing debate between "monetarist" countries and "economist" countries.

This book aims at placing current events within a long-term framework composed of a mosaic of multidisciplinary contributions that can provide the reader with keys which are adequate for an understanding of these events and useful for opening up new horizons.

The book begins with a look at 20th-century monetary unification projects in an attempt at reconstructing the long road toward the single currency: the first monetary unification projects in the 1950s and 1960s; the turbulence of the 1970s; the new impetus given by the European Monetary System to the cohesion among European countries; the causes of the 1992 crisis; and the long struggle for the Monetary Union, which would end at Maastricht. Finally, it focuses on the most recent events – the creation of the Eurozone and its crisis – starting from the turbulent years of the first decade of the new millennium and ending on May 31, 2016, just before the Brexit referendum.

The book focuses on analyzing the strategies undertaken during the monetary unification process, underscoring, on the one hand, the conviction of the Founding Fathers of the EMU that a single currency would favor further progress toward a more stringent economic and political integration, and on the other the continuing national resistance to the transfer of sovereignty from the national states to the European Union.

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Three Lessons from the Past: Monetary Unions in the 19th Century Europe (Lara Piccardo)


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Three Lessons from the Past

Monetary Unions in the 19th Century Europe


Department of Political Science, University of Genoa

At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte spread a single currency throughout the French Empire: the franc. In the Napoleonic monetary system (1808-1814) there was no central bank nor paper money and the system was based on the bimetallic franc and on the one to one exchange rate with lira and franc.

The Napoleonic idea was revived in 1865 by the nephew, Napoleon III, whose purpose was to defeat the growing power of the British pound: thus the Latin Monetary Union (1865-1926) was born. Two other similar experiments1, designed to equip large European single currency areas, appeared in the 19th century: the Germanic Monetary Union (1838-1871) and the Scandinavian Monetary Union (1872-1931)2.

These attempts met different outcomes, but still constitute a source of education and reflection. They show that monetary unions can take (and actually have taken) many forms. One of them, the Germanic ← 21 | 22 → Monetary Union, has been successful, lasting and being folded into an even larger monetary union; the other two, the Latin Monetary Union and the Scandinavian Monetary Union, have come apart. Knowing their histories allows to draw many interesting historic parallels between them and the European Monetary Union3.

1. The Latin Monetary Union (LMU)

Between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century...

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