Draghi Says Euro’s 20th Birthday Is Time for ‘Candid’ Reflection

(Bloomberg) -- The euro’s 20th birthday is no cause for triumphalism but rather for a “candid” reflection on what went wrong with the single currency, Mario Draghi said.

The European Central Bank president’s final press conference of 2018 was largely focused on the end of new asset purchases amid a slowing economy. But responding to a journalist’s question, he admitted that while the euro has been a “success” not everyone benefited equally.

“I’m a very biased observer. I think the euro has been a success.”

The euro became the official currency of 11 European countries on Jan. 1, 1999, though it would only start circulating in physical form three years later. While the euro area has expanded to include 19 nations, doubts over its future linger since the sovereign-debt crisis introduced the possibility of a country leaving the bloc.

“If you take the 20 years, you see two different periods,” he said on Thursday in Frankfurt. “The first was in coordination of a prolonged cycle of great moderation, the second was an ongoing crisis.”

Draghi, who will mark the euro’s 20th birthday with a speech in his native Italy on Saturday, admitted that the benefits of the single currency haven’t been distributed uniformly so far.

As to why this was the case, “some of it has to do with national responsibilities, some of it doesn’t,” he said. Rather than an occasion for celebration, the anniversary should be the time for a “candid and close introspection that could inspire future action on how to complete the monetary union.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.