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European Union: From the Zollverein to power?

German unity owes much to the Zollverein, a customs union which was created on 1st January 1834. It shared the thaler, the foundation of a real common market in Central Europe, which stimulated the industrial revolution in Europe as a whole.

With the Euro the European Union chose to do the same stepping up integration with a currency to confront globalisation head on.

But the warning we have had with Greece shows that we are lacking the courageous decisions that should provide the single European currency with the strong political profile it stands for.

There is talk of economic governance which is vital if we are to prevent the Euro's enemies from weakening it by speculation.

There is talk of monetary governance.

The reality of the situation is far simpler.

On 17th February in the Figaro Edouard Balladur set the example demanding that a vital step forwards be taken which was pinpointed a long time ago: the budgetary coordination of the Eurosystem members.

Formerly reticent about the single currency the former French Prime Minister, who faced the end of the European Monetary System in 1993 admits that it is necessary to relinquish more sovereignty asking for the Euro States' national budgets to be approved by the Eurogroup before they are submitted to the national parliaments.

This has been clear since the start. It is now caution and wisdom which is guiding the movement.

There are elements inherent to sovereignty which automatically limit it ... Purely national budgetary decisions are part of this.

By a real coordination of their budgets the Euro States would give themselves unprecedented influence and valuable breathing space.

This power would enable them to have decisive influence on the design of the new world regulations.

But this would immediately imply the unification of European forces within the international financial bodies - and first and foremost within the International Monetary Fund - in which the Euro has to speak as one.

At the IMF voting rights are calculated according to the States' economic weight. This is estimated according to the GDP (wealth), openness to the world economy (trade), growth (dynamism) and monetary reserves (strength).

On these criteria the USA was attributed 16.77% of voting rights, Japan 6.02%, China 3.66%, the six EU founder countries 18.4%.

The Euro countries weigh 22.91% in terms of votes, all of the Union's countries together, 32%.

Whatever the ongoing developments are and notably the emergence of new competitors this is how the world's wealth is divided up at present.

It is time for the Euro States to accept this, learn from it and put all their weight behind it, not everyman for himself but united, together.

In this way they will anticipate what necessity will soon oblige them to do: work together, really unite and not hang on to false economic sovereignty which is simply a dangerous pretext.

Is it too much to ask for them to act with audacity while there is still time  rather than be pitifully obliged to do so?