28th Feb 2021

Most Italians regret changing lira for euro

  • Rome: Italy aside, support for the euro remains high despite the recent debt crisis (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

A majority of Italians believe that ditching the lira for the euro has been bad for their country, according to a new survey.

By a 47 percent to 43 percent margin, Italians said that joining the single currency had been a mistake.

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A narrow majority of Cypriots also say that euro membership has damaged their country's prospects,

However, more than 50 percent of Europeans living in the euro area think the single currency has benefited their country, while two-thirds also think the euro is a good thing for the EU.

The poll, published by Eurobarometer on Tuesday (28 October), surveyed more than 16,000 people across the 18 eurozone countries and revealed higher levels of support for the euro in northern and central Europe.

The people of bailout-hit Ireland remain the biggest enthusiasts for the single currency, with 76 percent saying membership is good for them.

Support for the euro also remains low in France, which has come under recent pressure from the European Commission to increase spending cuts and reform its labour market and welfare system.

A majority in all 18 eurozone countries said that the euro is good for the EU as a whole. The euro came into public use in January 2002 and is frequently cited as the single most iconic symbol of European integration.

However, after a relatively benign start, the existence of the currency bloc was threatened by a debt crisis which has seen four countries - Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus - require multi-billion euro rescue packages.

The survey results suggest a class divide over the merits of the single currency. Just over one in three manual workers were favourable towards the euro, compared to just under two thirds of white-collar workers.

But the debt crisis which threatened to blow apart the currency bloc several years ago does not appear to have dissuaded countries from joining. Lithuania will become the next country to enter the currency bloc at the start of 2015, joining Baltic neighbours Latvia and Estonia, although no other countries are likely to join before the end of the decade.

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 people said that there should be more economic policy co-ordination by governments, an apparent endorsement of the eurozone's recently revamped economic governance rules.

Elsewhere, nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that there is a need for significant reforms to improve economic performance and that governments need to tighten their belts and overhaul public finances to take account of Europe's ageing populations.

However, only one in four voters agreed that the retirement age should be increased to ensure the sustainability of the pension systems.

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