Thursday, 19 May 2011

The ECU Currency, Predecessor to the Euro

Outside of politics (shock horror, some people have interests outside of politics) I'm a keen coin collector with my interests mainly on British coinage. All of this developed when I won a genuine Churchill coin from a quiz at a St George's Day party.

To my surprise, I learnt that the Euro was not the first modern day multi-state European currency. It's predecessor was the ECU, short for European Currency Unit.

The ECU currency was born in 1979, back before the European Union brand, the days of the old defunct European Economic Community branding. Perhaps people of Europe should have been paying (pardon the pun) more attention to the shady goings on of the great European project.

With the birth of the ECU was two more EU tentacles; the Exchange Rate Mechanism and the European Monetary System. You'd be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that this trident was a dress rehearsal for the full Euro project.

It is claimed, by the people that implemented the ECU that it was never intended to be used as currency but, like all things apparently unintended about the EU (they claim it was never intended to be a political union too) eventually it became increasingly accepted as cross-state currency being used in travellers cheques and bank deposits.

It is also claimed, that the ECU quasi-currency never had tangible legitimacy, that no coins were ever minted (pardon the pun). This of course is nonsense as the images in this post show.

The claim, that the ECU had nothing to do with its successor the EU and that the Euro was just a completely unrelated afterthought is further confounded by the fact that the value of the ECU to the Euro was, 1:1. One ECU was equal in value to one Euro. Of course, this was just a convenient coincidence (nonsense).

The final and killer blow to the 'ECU had nothing to do with the Euro' argument is that foreign courts across the world, including in America legally and officially accepted the Euro as the successor to the ECU.

For the Franco-phobics amongst us, we may be further repulsed to learn that the ECU is in fact the name of a coin used in ancient France. Unfortunately, I don't know what date this is as 5 years in the past for France could easily consitute as 'ancient' for such a country. But enough baguettophobia for now.

Symbolism is another interest of mine and if we look carefully at the coin we see the square dimensioned cross logo. Political anoraks amongst us may recognise that this is indeed the old symbol for what is now the European Union. Back in its creation many moons ago, it was the official symbol for a united Europe, but Turkey, one of the founding countries (Britain not one of them) took exception to this and so eventually it was changed to the current day 12 stars.

You'll also notice on the coin, the current and official symbol for the Euro currency. So much for ECU not being a dry run for the Euro.

I hope you've enjoyed this article, I thought we all deserve a break from political jiggery hackery.