The Euro: How much of a European are you?

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The Independent Online
Do you know your euro from your elbow? Try this quiz

Part 1: Facts

And Figures

A) The Cast of Characters

1. The European Central Bank president is (a) French (b) German (c) Dutch.

2. His name is (a) Louis Van Gaal (b) Wim Duisenberg (c) Francois Pienaar.

3. Oskar Lafontaine, the controversial German Finance Minister, has his domestic powerbase in (a) Saarland (b) Westphalia (c) Bavaria.

4. Jose-Maria Aznar is (a) Left-winger for Real Madrid (b) A Ryder Cup golfer (c) Spanish Prime Minister.

5. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is (a) French starlet shown half-naked in FHM (b) Post-structuralist philosopher (c) French Finance Minister.

6. Horacio Carbonari is (a) Derby County footballer (b) Leading Italian chef (c) EU commissioner for the environment.

7. Yves-Thibault de Silguy has said of Britain and Europe (a) "We can live without you. But you cannot live without us." (b) "For integrated markets to work, we must harmonise taxes." (c) "I am convinced that the UK will end up with only theoretical sovereignty in monetary terms" (d) "Of course a European state would be ideal. But it may take 100 years." (e) All of the above.

8. Yves-Thibault's views are significant because (a) He is Le Monde's most respected political columnist (b) He is EU commissioner in charge of the euro (c) He is Prime Minister of France.

9. According to radically Eurosceptic authors Ross McWhirter and Rodney Atkinson's book Treason At Maastricht: The Destruction of the British Constitution, the Frankfurt headquarters of the European Central Bank have embarrassing historical connections. They were once occupied by (a) Messerschmidt, makers of the Luftwaffe's fighter-planes (b) Volkswagen, which employed thousands of slave-labourers (c) IG Farben, makers of the death-camp gas Zyklon B.

10. Rodney Atkinson is actually the brother of (a) Perma-tanned footy pundit Ron Atkinson (b) Blackadder comedian Rowan Atkinson (c) Both.

B: The Numbers

1. The number of countries now included in the euro is (a) 10 (b) 11 (c) 12.

2. Their joint population is (a) 250 million, just a little less than the US (b) 270 million, roughly the same as the US (c) 290 million, 20m more than the US.

3. A euro is worth roughly (a) 70p (b) 90p (c) pounds 1.15.

4. If Britain joined the euro, treaty commitments would mean that it did so at a rate which valued the pound against the former Deutschmark at roughly (a) DM2.50 - the rate preferred by most exporters (b) DM2.70 - the rate at the time the euro came into being (c) DM2.95 - the rate at which exports tend to drop catastrophically.

5. The base interest-rate set by the ECB for the whole of euroland is: (a) 3%, less than half the UK's 6.35% (b) 4%, roughly two-thirds that of the UK (c) 6%, just marginally below the UK

6. Europe has (a) A smaller economy than the US, and smaller share of world trade (b) A smaller economy than the US, but bigger share of world trade (c) A bigger economy than the US, and bigger share of world trade.

7. According to current estimates, by the year 2025 (a) Europe will be the world's biggest economy, with 32% of global GDP (b) Europe will be second only to Japan, with 24% of global GDP (c) Europe will fall behind the US and China, with 10% of global GDP.

8. The Maastricht Treaty says the euro is to be a "hard" currency. Countries that try to spend their way out of trouble will be penalised. So rules setting up the euro limit national debt to (a) 50% of GDP (b) 60% of GDP (c) 100% of GDP.

9. Match these European countries - (a) France (b) Britain (c) Germany - to the amount of national GDP spent on social security: (i) 6% (ii) 15% (iii) 20%

10. A 1995 survey by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) projected economic, political and population trends of various Western economies. It gave estimates for national debt in the year 2030. So, to see which Euro-nations have reason to fear for their future prosperity, match these countries - (a) Britain (b) France (c) Germany (d) Italy - to these OECD projected figures: (i) Surplus of 9% of GDP (ii) National debt of 88% of GDP (iii) National debt of 93% of GDP (iv) national debt of 126% of GDP.

Part 2:


Pick the statement that most closely matches your opinions:

1. The EU's Committee of the Regions is allegedly setting up regional governments, run by "social partners" such as unions, employer-groups and local authorities. England will be divided into eight such regions, some of which will also include parts of other countries, such as France. Is this (a) Nothing to do with me - local politics bores me stiff (b) Proof of the EU's determination to crush the nation state (c) Just another silly scare story dreamt up by Little Englander sceptics.

2. The Committee of the Regions' German boss, Prof Manfred Dammeyer, said: "The concepts of the nation state are fading away. The new order is only just emerging from the shadows." Are his words (a) Completely beyond me (b) A sinister warning of things to come, couched in terms (eg "new order") distressingly reminiscent of Germany's past (c) Self-evidently true - the nation state is a thing of the past.

3. Plans to harmonise working times of European financial institutions will mean the abolition of all national holidays, including British Bank Holidays, except for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Is this (a) Bloody daft - it'll never happen (b) Typical example of Brussels bureaucracy gone mad (c) An essential way of ensuring efficient management of a unified capital market.

4. Recent newspaper reports have revealed that EU regulations make both Guy Fawkes bonfires and pate de foie gras illegal (brushwood must be burnt where it is cut; geese are harmed by being force-fed to make foie gras). Is this (a) A nice story for the tabloids (b) A typical example of Brussels bureaucracy gone mad (c) Another infuriating case of irresponsible journalism.

5. When politicians such as Oskar Lafontaine talk about "harmonising" European taxes, what they're really talking about is (a) The same sort of lies that all politicians, everywhere, spout about tax (b) Avoiding the reform of Germany's bloated tax system by dumping the same stifling burden on to others (c) A perfectly rational proposal to ensure fiscal co-ordination within the euro zone.

6. Over the past two decades, millions of new jobs have been created by American business. Over the same period, there has been no net job creation in Europe's private sector. This proves that (a) Er... there are more McDonald's outlets in the US? (b) The flexible, low-tax US economy is infinitely more efficient than Europe's high-spending, highly regulated social democrat model (c) Most of those American jobs are low-skilled, low-paid, unprotected positions, which would be unacceptable to European workers or their employers.

7. The charter of the European Central Bank makes it completely independent from political control by governments of member states. Is this (a) Of no interest to me whatever (b) Typical of the refusal of EU institutions to accept proper democratic accountability (c) A prudent way of ensuring that decisions are taken on sound financial grounds.

8. In the five years before Britain's 1990 entry into the exchange-rate mechanism, our economy was among the most successful in Europe. During the two years in which we stayed in the ERM, we suffered the worst recession - as measured in total output loss - since the Thirties. This proves that (a) I know nothing about economics, could you run that by me again? (b) It is completely insane to subject the British economy to interest rates determined by the needs of other countries, which may well have very different economic conditions (c) We made a purely technical error, going in at the wrong currency level, and so vulnerable to the sort of currency speculation the euro is designed to stop.

9. The proposed European Public Prosecutor's corpus juris is (a) Some sort of incomprehensible Latin jargon (b) A legal concept under which British citizens' rights to trial by jury, habeas corpus and protection in their own country would be rendered null and void by a Continent-wide legal system, under which foreign judges could summon Britons for trial without extradition proceedings, and then lock them up indefinitely (c) Essential harmonisation of a few areas of European law, badly needed to combat international crimes such as fraud, and based on proposals drawn up by British experts.

10. When I think of Europe, I think of (a) Pizzas, football teams and a couple of weeks on the Costa del Sol (b) A foul place, full of foreigners, that begins at Calais (c) An amusing chablis, a divine little dress from Armani, an adorable Merc sports car, and that villa near Siena where we spent a month last summer.

11. The point about Europe is that (a) They can't fight for toffee, but the weather's nice and the booze is cheap (b) They'll always hate us, whatever we do, and it's always us who have to change, so we might as well get out now (c) Our partners would be far more reasonable, if only we understood their problems and acted in a warmer, more positive manner towards them.

12. Given the choice, I'd rather Britain (a) Carried on pretty much as usual (b) Became one of the United States of America (c) Became four (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) of the United States of Europe.


Part 1: Facts and Figures

Score 1pt for each correct answer

The Cast of Characters: 1. (c), 2. (b), 3. (a), 4. (c), 5. (c), 6. (a), 7. (c), 8. (b), 9. (c), 10. (b)

The Numbers: 1. (b), 2. (c), 3. (a), 4. (c), 5. (a), 6. (b), 7. (c), 8. (b), 9, (a) / (iii), (b) / (i), (c) / (ii). 10. (a) / (i), (b) / (ii). (c) / (iii), (d) / (iv)

Part 2: Attitudes

See box left.

What Your Score Says About You

Part 1: Facts and figures

5 to 9: You exist in a world of blissful ignorance, unaware of the geopolitical storms blowing around you. Your life has a certain enviable simplicity. When the time comes to cast your vote in the great euro-referendum, you will probably abstain, or mark the wrong box by mistake. Are you, by any chance, Tara Palmer-Tompkinson?

10 to 17: Very much what one would expect from an Independent reader: well-informed without being obsessive. A keen observer, but not a trainspotter, you play your full part in our democracy with intelligence and perception.

18-25: Is this an anorak I see before me ... You are - are you not? - a fanatic. You compile statistics, compose pamphlets, drive your friends (if you have any) to distraction with your Euro-political obsessions. But in what direction do your obsessions point. For that we need to know how you answered ...

Part 2: Attitudes

Mostly a: Your ignorance is matched only by your indifference. Irrespective of your financial status, intellectually and politically you belong to the Lumpenproletariat. Honestly, universal suffrage is wasted on the likes of you.

Mostly b: You spend your days scanning the latest scare stories, working yourself up into a tiswas about the destruction of everything you hold dear and the ruination of Britain by foreigners. One small point: don't you think we've made quite a good job of ruining it ourselves? And something else: look at Europe's politicians. Observe the contrast between their lofty rhetoric and venal actions. Do they seem likely to abandon their national identities or interests?

Mostly c: You exist in a miasma of self-loathing and cultural cringe, convinced that they do everything better in Europe. You live in dread that the great, gleaming Euro-train will depart for its date with destiny, leaving you on the platform. But consider, if you will, the endemic corruption of Italy, the profound insecurity of the French, their barely concealed fear and loathing of Germany, the Krauts' guilt-ridden but unsuccessful attempts to mask their natural inclination to boss everyone else around. Are we really so much worse than them?