Ten years ago today a Guardian headline read Euro lobby demands stronger lead.
Lord Heseltine effectively accused Mr Blair of a lack of nerve as he dismissed the government’s five economic tests as a “protective barrier” behind which it could “cower in order to have apparently intellectually defensible reasons for putting things off”.
On the next day, 1 January 2002, the same newspaper reported on the launch of the Euro.
The mood was uniformly upbeat at parties, pageants and ceremonies bidding farewell to once-treasured marks, francs, pesetas and lire.
“Our countdown is leading towards a new era,” Wim Duisenberg, the Dutch president of the European Central Bank (ECB), declared in Frankfurt. “By using euros, we will give a clear signal of the confidence and hope we have in tomorrow’s Europe.”
On a day of highs, Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, hit the highest note. “We are witnessing the dawn of an age that the people of Europe have dreamed of for centuries: borderless travel and payment in a common currency,” he said in a new year message.
Mr Prodi marked the change by buying flowers in euros, not schillings, on a visit to Vienna. And in remarks that will alarm a British government watching uncomfortably from the sidelines, the former Italian prime minister pledged that the arrival of the euro in people’s pockets would lead “ineluctably” to more economic coordination – the great fear of sceptics.
Lest anyone be tempted to gloat, here is a final quote, this one dating only from a month or two ago, from Patrick Crozier of this parish:
How to stop worrying about “contagion”
Just remember that every country in the Western world already has the disease.