May 2, 1998 will be a date to remember: the Euro was created on this day.
The single European currency represents a monumental step toward the unification initiated some twenty years ago by the SME.
By the year 1999, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain will have a single currency. These countries will have a “virtual” currency, which will circulate only in the bank computers. It will not be materially visible and it will not be palpable, yet it will be real and will facilitate exchanges of money, goods and services between these countries. At the end of this first phase, and precisely from January 1, 2002 the euro will replace all local currencies.
But will it be “a logistic nightmare”, as reported by the Wired journal? According to the Gartner Group, the cost of this change for software and infrastructures will be somewhere between 150 and 400 billion dollars. It is certain that this huge change will cost a lot, not only in economic terms, but the motivation of such sacrifices must be politics before economics. The unification of Europe will result in a position of respect and of responsibility in the macro-economic world choices. Europe will be economically stronger and more agile to face the challenges of the market. With the single currency, the concourse, the competition, and the free market, there will certainly be many victims such as the technologically unprepared companies that will be outperformed by stronger and more innovative ones. These rapid changes will reward those industries that have invested much on research and development, optimization of resources, and new technologies. However, at the same time, those people who have not updated themselves to new qualitative and productive standards will surely suffer.
The path to a truly “common” Europe, however, appears to be a long way away. In fact many deep differences separate Europeans: different languages, varying and conflicting laws, and different customs. Italy, for example, has regularly broken European directives. This transcends to the level of our profession. The Italian orthodontic specialists have not been recognized at the European level, nor is there a limit on the licensed number of dentists. Essentially we are training a large number of dentists (with European quality certification?) for “export” to the rest of Europe while they are strongly under-employed in Italy. This is a typical example of how local politics of a single state are the prey of lobbyists for the industrial sector. International accords are easily manipulated to benefit different organizations. Despite large fines being levied against offending countries, it is difficult if not impossible, to ever identify or punish the offending parties.
For this reason, we welcome the arrival of the Euro with trust, hoping that the doors and the window design on the new European banknotes symbolizes the beginning of greater cooperation between member states. We are heralding a new mentality that prioritizes the well-being of Europeans that carries over to the Universities to self-evaluate and to once again become the true “factories” of knowledge, the “forges” of new projects, and the “drawing boards” of innovative products for the industry and the profession.
“When the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy…….”
-Book of Job-
Dr. Gabriele Floria D.D.S