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Arvamus 27 Dec 2010  EWR
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The Independent, Ireland

Europe needs to stop buying time and instead make bank bondholders accept haircuts, believes Colm McCarthy

Estonia will become the 17th member of the eurozone on January 1. Only Finland among its Baltic EU neighbours chose to join when the currency was established back in 1999. Watching the plight of Greece, Ireland and Portugal over the last nine months, those EU countries which opted out can be excused for feeling that they made the right choice. The fact that the UK chose to keep its own currency was understood at the time to be a factor which diminished the attractions for Ireland, but the decisions of Denmark and Sweden to stay out were perhaps more instructive. These were small and peripheral countries too, which baulked at the more-or-less irreversible decision to abolish the national currency.

The currency union which Ireland chose to join has turned out to be poorly designed, poorly managed and poorly led. It has become fashionable to argue that monetary union cannot succeed without fiscal union, that is, a common tax and social welfare system requiring budgetary transfers from the richer to the poorer regions.

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