Friday, 15 April 2016

The Euro In Your Pocket

I notice that it's been several years since I have been outside the United Kingdom - the last year I was abroad was in 2012, when I visited Brussels for a long weekend in the April (including trips to Germany), and then visited the USA in the May and June.

With a short holiday in the Netherlands coming up, there is one of those tasks that has to be done - getting the foreign currency.

And it is this which reinforces the idea that I am going abroad. If I visit Scotland or Northern Ireland, I have no need to change currency, although I will, of course, end up with non-Bank of England sterling banknotes.

It could have been different. We could have gone down the road of using the euro as our currency.

I was never persuaded by the pseudo-romantic "Queen's head" argument - the appearance of the Queen's head on Bank of England banknotes dates back to the 1960s, and moreover, at the time of the debate of whether we should adopt the euro I was living in Scotland, so used to carrying around Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank banknotes without the Queen's head on. And, if we had adopted the euro, then the Queen's head would still appear on the coins that would have been produced by the Royal Mint for the European Central Bank.

As I gather together my euro notes, and try and find where I put the coins from my trip to Brussels, I can't help feeling that "Europe" is something "other". That using sterling rather than the euro reminds us that we are different, and that - at least while we remain - the European Union will lack one of the things that makes a nation a nation, namely a single currency.