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Pierre Werner


Political leader in Luxembourg. As a fervent European Mr Werner could not have chosen to be born in a more suitable place. Luxembourg was ruled at various times by many other European countries, among them France, Spain, Austria and even the Netherlands. Sometimes the country was sold or given away: its handy size, only 84km (51 miles) by 52km, made it easy to package as a gift to seal an alliance. Germany ignored Luxembourg's pleas of neutrality and occupied it during both world wars.

Mr Werner was brought up bilingually. His father spoke French and his mother German. He set out to be a lawyer and took a law degree in Paris. He held various major posts from World War II. He became Prime Minister in 1959. Named chairman of the European Community's Committee on Monetary Union in 1970, he was instrumental in coordinating the member countries' economic and monetary policies.

Mr Werner is generally accepted as the father of the euro. The euro's paternity is probably shared among the pioneers of what eventually became the European Union. A common currency for Europe is hinted at in the Union's founding treaty signed in Rome in 1957. But Mr Werner became its most public advocate; more than that, a zealot. His European colleagues, who tended to be, in public at least, less zealotish, were content that a scheme they adopted in 1971 that eventually led to the euro should be called the Werner Plan. He would get the credit and, if things went wrong, he could also get the blame.

Although the world monetary crisis in 1971 and the economic crisis in 1973 braked the project, it was finally accomplished by founding the European Monetary System in 1979.

 

Juan Carlos Ocaña


European Union The European Union: integration
process and European citizenship
European Unity
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