Critics of European monetary integration often point out that, in the absence of political union, monetary union is doomed to fail. I agree with the critics’ conclusion, but not with their premise, for the success of the single currency so far has been due precisely to the political commitments of the Union’s member countries.
In other words, it is not true that the European Union does not constitute a political union. European economic integration – in all its aspects – reflects the desire to integrate Europe politically, which, at least in my view, implies that European economic and monetary integration is irreversible.
This has been true from the outset of the European integration process in 1952, when six countries established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The aim of the ECSC was explicitly political: to remove control of the two most important raw materials for the production of heavy weaponry from states that had just fought the bloodiest war in history.
This drive for peace remained, quietly, the key motivation behind further steps toward Europe’s economic integration, which was regarded as the vehicle for achieving political integration.