Bildt: euro stability lessened crisis impact

Bildt: euro stability lessened crisis impact
The impact of the global financial crisis would have been worse on the EU the euro had not provided the necessary monetary stability, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said on Thursday.

“If we compare the alternative — and I was prime minister in the early 90s so I can speak with a certain authority — we had a situation in Europe in the early 90s when we had a country devaluing every two weeks or something like that,” Carl Bildt told reporters in Lithuania.

“It was complete monetary turmoil,” Bildt said on the sidelines of a closed-door policy conference in the south-eastern town of Trakai.

“Now we have gone through a very severe economic crisis but we have had monetary stability,” he added, in contrast with critics who pin the blame for Europe’s economic woes on the eurozone crisis.

Sweden, which joined the EU in 1995, is not a euro-zone member, the Swedes having rejected the euro in a 2003 referendum.

Having learned tough lessons from their own economic slump of the early 1990s, Sweden is now held up as an example of fiscal rectitude, boasting a place among Europe’s strongest public finances.

But Stockholm steers clear of anti-euro rhetoric and Bildt said that the euro had brought “tremendous benefits” both to members of the 17-nation currency bloc and to the entire 27-member EU.

“It’s been a benefit for trade integration,” he said.

“You can argue that during the particular crisis it has been more comfortable short term on the outside. But there’s no question that the euro is to the benefit of the Swedish economy as well,” he added.

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