Letter: The historic euro

Sir: Hamish McRae claimed recently that the launch of the euro represented the first time a number of sovereign states had voluntarily abandoned their separate currencies and adopted a single currency.

Not so. In 19th-century Germany, prior to unification under Prussia, many of the sovereign states had their own currencies. These they voluntarily abandoned as the single market (Zollverein) developed, adopting instead the Prussian thaler as their single currency. Eurosceptics might take note that this failed to lead to political union, much to the disappointment of federalists and nationalists, because most states desired to retain their sovereignty. Indeed when in 1866 Prussia expelled Austria from Germany because she was the principal obstacle to political union, most German states sided with Austria despite their economic ties with Prussia.

M A LEES

Brighton, East Sussex

Sir: Christopher Johnson ("The last EMU before global union?" 4 January) has missed an outstanding example of a successful currency union: it is the pound.

The English and Scottish pounds used to be two separate currencies of widely different values. On the union of the crowns in 1603 they were locked into an exchange-rate mechanism. On the union of the parliaments in 1707 this was changed into a single currency. This year's events have shown that the single currency has done nothing to weaken Scottish sense of national identity.

Earl RUSSELL

House of Lords

Sir: Following the formation of the Axis pact in the late 1930s, some politically incorrect wit observed: "Serve Hitler right - we had the Italians last time!" This quotation springs to mind following the announcement that Lord Owen is to have a leading role in the anti-EMU campaign.

PHILIP GOLDENBERG

Liberal Democrats

Woking, Surrey

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