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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Pierre Werner and Jacques Santer

Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences 1998

Pierre Werner

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The advancement toward monetary integration and the implantation of the Euro implies an economic transformation whose enormous transcendence will also be felt in political, social, and cultural spheres, constituting one of the most decisive historical milestones in the history of the continent. It marks the consolidation of a climate of cooperation among EU countries and a Europeanist vision that are consistent with one of the most characteristic and defining features of the spirit ushering in the new century. The civil and institutional revolution implicit in the definitive use of the single currency-the Euro-will be the consequence of having applied the most modern economic theories, in an attempt to do away with the centuries of discord, conflicts, and wars on the continent. Thus, the Euro is conceived not only a currency, but also as an instrument of peace and concord.

The jury has wished two figures to serve as symbolic recipients of this award: nPierre Werner, ex-Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who was the first president of the committee of national experts that defined the objective of the Monetary Union in 1970; and Jacques Santer, current president of the European Commission. The decisive role that this institution played in the process is thereby acknowledged in the person of its current president, during whose term of office the definitive political thrust for creating the Euro was provided.

The European Commission, in March 1970, presented a staggered plan on which a group of experts began working. It was led by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner, whose definitive report, dated 11 November 1970, established the European Monetary Union, even though the process was stymied due to fluctuations in the dollar in 1971. Nevertheless, the striving toward monetary unification did not cease, and such important accomplishments as the European Monetary System, which went into effect in March 1979, were brought into being. The previous year, 1978, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President Valéry Giscard d´Estaing had moved the process forward by agreeing to create, despite the opposition of the German Bundesbank, a Central European Bank. It was the European Council of June 1988, held in Hanover and presided over by then-President Jacques Delors, that was charged with "studying and proposing the specific stages to carry out the Economic and Monetary Union", and that provided a renewed, resolute impetus to this process. Delors´s new plan was presented in 1989 and approved at the Council of Madrid of that same year. The Berlin Wall fell a few months later, and Helmut Kohl urged German reunification. The Union´s first phase went into effect in June of the following year, giving rise to the lifting of restrictions on capital flows, increasing coordination among member nations, and cooperation among central banks. In December 1991 the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union, binding member states to irrevocably set the exchange rates that would lead to the "introduction of a single currency". In January 1994 the European Monetary Institute, precursor of the future Central Bank, became operative, and in December 1995 the name of "Euro" was approved for the new currency, whose design was approved in 1997. In May 1998, with Jacques Santer occupying the presidency of the Commission, the eleven nations to participate in the single currency were chosen. Euros will begin to function as a banking instrument in January 1999, with paper money and coins going into circulation in January 2002; national currencies will cease to be legal tender in July of this same year.


Jacques Santer

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The world of the XXI century is searching for its reference points. Europe has an obligation to the world. To show that this continent - where two world wars broke out - has truly decided to look beyond the desires for power of its states in favour of a higher ideal more in keeping with the talent of its nations, the desire for (mutual) trust. That is why the success of the European Union is crucial. Because it guarantees our ability to take on the responsibilities incumbent upon us.

The advancement toward monetary integration and the implantation of the Euro implies an economic transformation whose enormous transcendence will also be felt in political, social, and cultural spheres, constituting one of the most decisive historical milestones in the history of the continent. It marks the consolidation of a climate of cooperation among EU countries and a Europeanist vision that are consistent with one of the most characteristic and defining features of the spirit ushering in the new century. The civil and institutional revolution implicit in the definitive use of the single currency-the Euro-will be the consequence of having applied the most modern economic theories, in an attempt to do away with the centuries of discord, conflicts, and wars on the continent. Thus, the Euro is conceived not only a currency, but also as an instrument of peace and concord.

The jury has wished two figures to serve as symbolic recipients of this award: Pierre Werner, ex-Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who was the first president of the committee of national experts that defined the objective of the Monetary Union in 1970; and Jacques Santer, current president of the European Commission. The decisive role that this institution played in the process is thereby acknowledged in the person of its current president, during whose term of office the definitive political thrust for creating the Euro was provided.

The European Commission, in March 1970, presented a staggered plan on which a group of experts began working. It was led by the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner, whose definitive report, dated 11 November 1970, established the European Monetary Union, even though the process was stymied due to fluctuations in the dollar in 1971. Nevertheless, the striving toward monetary unification did not cease, and such important accomplishments as the European Monetary System, which went into effect in March 1979, were brought into being. The previous year, 1978, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President Valéry Giscard d´Estaing had moved the process forward by agreeing to create, despite the opposition of the German Bundesbank, a Central European Bank. It was the European Council of June 1988, held in Hanover and presided over by then-President Jacques Delors, that was charged with "studying and proposing the specific stages to carry out the Economic and Monetary Union", and that provided a renewed, resolute impetus to this process. Delors´s new plan was presented in 1989 and approved at the Council of Madrid of that same year. The Berlin Wall fell a few months later, and Helmut Kohl urged German reunification. The Union´s first phase went into effect in June of the following year, giving rise to the lifting of restrictions on capital flows, increasing coordination among member nations, and cooperation among central banks. In December 1991 the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union, binding member states to irrevocably set the exchange rates that would lead to the "introduction of a single currency". In January 1994 the European Monetary Institute, precursor of the future Central Bank, became operative, and in December 1995 the name of "Euro" was approved for the new currency, whose design was approved in 1997. In May 1998, with Jacques Santer occupying the presidency of the Commission, the eleven nations to participate in the single currency were chosen. Euros will begin to function as a banking instrument in January 1999, with paper money and coins going into circulation in January 2002; national currencies will cease to be legal tender in July of this same year.

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