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Euro still needs work 20 years on, say European Union's five presidents
[FRANKFURT] The five presidents of the European Union (EU) used the euro's 20th birthday to praise the single currency's successes, while warning that the job isn't yet complete.
The continent's monetary union, one of the biggest economic experiments of the modern era, has grown to 19 members from its initial 11 and now covers 340 million citizens. But the shackling together of nations as diverse as Germany, Italy and Greece also created strains that led to a debt crisis and which continue to fuel political flare-ups.
Here's a collection of comments from the EU's political and monetary heads, a day before the Jan 1 anniversary.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
"The euro has become a symbol of unity, sovereignty and stability. It has delivered prosperity and protection to our citizens and we must ensure that it continues to do so. This is why we are working hard to complete our Economic and Monetary Union and boost the euro's international role further."
Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament
"In order for Europeans to benefit fully from the jobs, growth and solidarity that the single currency should bring, we must complete our economic and monetary union through genuine financial, fiscal and political union. This will also allow Europe to better shield its citizens from potential future crises.
"In order for Europeans to benefit fully from the jobs, growth and solidarity that the single currency should bring, we must complete our Economic and Monetary Union through genuine financial, fiscal and political union. This will also allow Europe to better shield its citizens from potential future crises."
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council
"Despite crises, the euro has shown itself resilient, and the eight members which joined the original 11 have enjoyed its benefits. As the world keeps changing, we will keep upgrading and strengthening our Economic and Monetary Union."
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB)
"After 20 years, there is now a generation who knows no other domestic currency. During that time, the ECB has delivered on its main task of maintaining price stability."
"But we also contribute to the well-being of euro area citizens by developing safe, innovative banknotes, promoting secure payment systems, supervising banks to ensure they are resilient and overseeing financial stability in the euro area."
Mario Centeno, president of the Eurogroup
"The euro and the close economic cooperation that it entails has evolved over time overcoming challenges in its way. It has come a long way since the start, and it has seen important changes in the wake of the crisis to help us leave the hardship behind.
"But this work is not yet finished, it requires continuous reform efforts in good times as in bad times. There can be no doubts of our political will to strengthen the Economic and Monetary Union. We need to be prepared for what the future may hold - we owe that to our citizens."