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Europe’s Monetary (Dis)Union

Introduction

Fireworks illuminate the sky around a huge euro sculpture, designed by German artist Ottmar Hoerl, in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, January 1, 2002. Several thousand people in Frankfurt celebrated at a party on the streets around the ECB to welcome Europe's new currency, the euro. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

The project of European integration has always been a dream spurred by a nightmare. To escape the continent’s volatile, bloody past, the argument ran, European countries needed to bind themselves together and forge a harmonious common future. 

In fits and starts, to varying degrees on varying issues, this project has managed to achieve extraordinary success over the past seven decades, enabling Europe to reach levels of peace and prosperity at which previous generations could only have marveled. But the endeavor has always been more popular with elites than with the masses, has lurched from crisis to crisis, and has struggled to deal with the differences that keep Europe’s disparate parts from forming a seamless whole.

A man cycles by anti-EU graffiti in Athens, Greece June 28, 2015.
A man cycles by anti-EU graffiti in Athens, Greece June 28, 2015. Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

Foreign Affairs has been covering the effort closely from the beginning, and as the Greek crisis comes to a head,

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