The possibility of creating a democratic monetary order as part of the European experience was greeted with scepticism at the time of the creation of the European Monetary Union. An equal scepticism is bound to welcome the project to establish a new international monetary order. The most dangerous alternative is to surrender to sovereignty and to war to resolve the tensions between the most powerful states and their vassals: monetary, financial and political disorder, writes Valdai Club expert Dario Velo.
The European currency, the euro, began to circulate at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The rules that were to govern the European monetary order had already been established by the Maastricht Treaty. The European monetary institutions had begun to be organised in 1979 with the S.M.E. The spread of the European Currency Unit, which preceded the euro, had been favoured by the development of a private E.C.U. as a contribution to the advancement of the European Monetary Union. The European Economic and Monetary Union project had been defined in the early seventies by the Werner Plan, which had capitalised on the political-economic contributions of Robert Triffin and Jean Monnet; a theoretical contribution was made by a third economist, Edmond Giscard d’Estaing. Edmond was the father of the future President of the French Republic, Valéry, who was to play an important role in the realization of European monetary unification.
This schematic chrono-history alone illustrates that the birth of the euro was not the result of a precise decision, defined at a precise moment in European history and in world history. European monetary unification is the result of a process that has been able to progressively manage the solutions of problems that seemed insurmountable. Even today, many are sceptical about the possibility of the euro’s survival, as a currency not supported by a state in the full traditional sense of the term. This process ensured the achievement of this impossible goal, a coin without a Prince to issue it.
The method followed is more important than specific success; it is this method that can guide the realisation of a world monetary order, before the birth of a World Federation. Intermediate steps will have to be taken; it is realistic to think that they will be implemented with the same logic as the gradual process of European monetary unification.
This is the vision that led Triffin and with him the federalists, who played a fundamental role in the birth of the European Central Bank. Disregarding this historical vision means not understanding the evolution of the monetary order that developed from 1950 onwards and is still in full development.
The list of the aforementioned stages in reaching the European Monetary Union can be read in two different ways, from actuality to reaching the founding phase of the process, or vice versa, from the beginning to the actuality of the process.
The two different readings lead one to focus attention on two phenomena, both real though different. Reading from current events to the roots of the process leads us to focus attention on the coherence and linear development of the monetary unification process. It emerges that each stage travelled was a prerequisite for the next stage; this is Jean Monnet's method of constitutional gradualism. The monetary unification process certainly had an economic dimension; it is the constitutional dimension that has been of crucial importance. Each step taken in the monetary unification process has enriched, according to a coherent logic, the constitutional tools available to support the functioning of the agreements.
The crucial objective pursued by Triffin, in collaboration with Monnet, is found, who ensured the orientation of the individual stages. The historical objective to be pursued is for Triffin the world currency; the process of European monetary unification was to constitute a stage along a path destined to lead to the world currency, inaugurating common rules. The success of the Euro teaches the method to go further.
Triffin understands that the road to world currency requires the creation of regional monetary areas as intermediate stages.