'The BBC Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt’s The Lost Continent is a superb page-turner about the crisis of the European Single Currency. I found it so jaw-dropping I added my own entry in the index for "WTF moments: best of."
I learnt that “Two journalists from Corriere della Sera discovered there were 72,000 official cars [in Italy], costing 1.85 billion euros annually”.
In Spain, “the airport of Ciudad Real boasts one of Europe longest runways. Its vast airy light terminal is designed to handle 5 million passengers a year. It cost nearly a billion euros. Yet there are no planes.”
During Ireland’s property boom, “In the space of 10 years, 553,000 houses had been built. Nearly 300,000 of them lay empty.” One city, Valencia in Spain, ran up a debt of 25 billion Euros.
German stability culture it wasn’t.
In a sense, the single currency – monetary union without fiscal union, let alone political union – not only helped get European countries into crisis, it has also stopped them getting out of it.
Introduced prematurely – and there is an understatement! – in 1999, the Euro was a political act by a political class-cum-bureaucracy that saw itself as the vanguard party for a European super-state. It was always about politics not economics. It was supposed to be the next stage to an "‘ever-closer union".
Unfortunately, the single currency was also an open invitation for countries with very different economies, and very different economic and political cultures to Germany’s, to get into serious trouble.'
There's more at Alan Johnson's Telegraph Blog but definitely not at the pro-EU and partly EU funded BBC.