We’ve spoken to several politicians and officials so far in Debating Europe, asking policy-makers what they think of your suggestions. However, we’ve also been approaching senior academics and business leaders to get their thoughts down as well. Here’s our first reaction from the “business community”.
Leif Johansson is a Swedish businessman who has served as President and CEO of the Volvo Group since 1997. Johansson’s company produces commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses, as well as industrial and aerospace equipment (the more famous wing of the company, Volvo Cars, was sold to Ford in 1999 and then, most recently, to a Chinese company last year). We thought it might be interesting to hear his perspective on the debate we’ve been having about the Euro (see here, here and here for other reactions).
As CEO of a billion-Euro company with over a hundred thousand employees, does he agree with a comment we were sent from Mike from the UK that the Euro has harmed Europe’s growth and should be abolished? Here’s the original comment:
The eurozone debt crisis has shown that one-size-fits-all policies and lax disciplines are a recipe for disaster. Abolish the Euro, and return monetary policy to the national level.
And here’s Johansson’s response:
I would disagree with that. I think the Euro is so far a great success, if you look at all of the countries with a few exceptions. The word “discipline” he has there is the most important. Perhaps there was a lack of understanding that when you join the Eurozone there has to be discipline both in terms of numbers and in terms of what you do.
What about his own country, Sweden? It’s currently outside of the Eurozone and, in 2003, Swedes overwhelmingly rejected joining the Single Currency in a referendum. Does he think this was the right decision?
I was in favour of Sweden joining the Euro and I still am in favour of Sweden joining the euro. Sweden has one of the soundest economies in the whole of Europe and we still have great volatility in our currency, which is difficult as an industrialist.
So, there we go – our first representative of business is generally supportive of monetary union. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be talking to people more critical of the Euro and its prospects to see if they agree with our commenter.