You shook me all night long...well, for a few seconds anyway

The walls were was shaking, the earth was quaking....last night in Copenhagen. Quite a few woke up wondering just what the neighbours were up to. In fact, the shaking woke me up too. And indeed it was an earthquake 4.7 richter scale at 6.20AM - the biggest earthquake in Denmark in 23 years. Hmmm, how about that. Earthquakes are extremely rare in this area - not surprising given how flat the regions is. The epicenter was in Sweden, some 65 km away from Copenhagen.

Click here to read about it on the USGS Earthquake Warning Center site.

Euro dreams...

I have to admit that I was something of a rare species, in my surroundings, back in 2000 during the last Danish referendum on whether to replace the kroner with the euro. At the time I was attending Copenhagen Business School, where support for the Euro was about as close to unanimous as one can get. Business types, you know. Myself, I was quietly something of a skeptic. Actually, it wasn't really because I was against joining. My position was that Denmark was in the enviable position of being able to afford to wait. Denmark had stability and a solid economy, after all. Which is to say, it was the 'Euro Club' that had to prove itself to Denmark, not the other way around. So why rush it? Why should Denmark rush into the scheme before the euro had proven itself as a functional currency?

So to be clear, this was by no means true opposition to the euro, more of a strategic 'what's the harm in waiting a couple years?'. A type of passive opposition. In case you didn't figure it out, the euro was voted down in Denmark.

Those couple of years have long since passed and as it turns out the euro has long since proven itself. There is really no need for Denmark to hold out any longer, and plenty of reasons to go for it. And probably it won't be long before the question is put to the public. These days, the financial crisis has brought a significant softening of public opinion in Denmark, with the majority now shifting towards a position in favour of the euro.

It seems unlikely that Danish Prime Minister and EU-superfan Anders Fogh Rasmussen will be able to resist holding a vote on the matter much longer. Now dear Anders admittedly does his best to temper his displays of excessively-overt EU enthusiasm, lest he talk himself out of his position of leader of his own party by overtly coveting a 'higher' position elsewhere in Europe, or provoke disquiet among his not-so-silent coalition partners, the embarrassingly racist Dansk Folkeparti, should they sense he is becoming a bit too overzealous about something that simply doesn't fit into their bellicosely juvenile vision of 'Danmark for Danskerne'.

Ironically, it is the very issues that the government didn't dare to address during the last referendum that are now fueling euro support. Those being any arguments grounded in economic logic - such as the point that simply adopting a currency that the Danish kroner is already tied to anyway isn't such a risk, when it comes down to it.

The fact that in the recent weeks, the National Bank was obliged to increase the interest rate spread between the euro and the kroner during the financial crisis was the real kicker that really shifted opinion. When people in Denmark, with homes and apartments already deflating in value by the day, realised that they were now also paying as much as 1.5% extra for the privilege of holding their loans in kroner instead of euro, finally a certainly logic which was previously drowned in nationalist sentiment snapped with a nearly audible 'cracking' sound (of course, that may actually have been the sound of shareholders jaws dropping open and hitting the ground when Roskilde Bank was suddenly nationalised and their stocks become instantly worthless), and almost overnight the shift the brought supporters of the euro in Denmark into a majority position.

So bring on the euro referendum. It might just be the occasion the government needs to shake the moth-balls off of those EU flags - flags which the Danish government seems to have a morbid fear of flying for even an hour longer than necessary each year, lest they be interpreted as some sort of anti-Denmark sentiment by the more rabid elements of the Danish population.

More about it here in a recent article from The Guardian.

Powered by Blogger