Yesterday, I had a rather sad conversation with a friend in Portugal. The country has just had to force through another austerity budget; and fears are mounting that it will be next in line for an EU bail-out. “We should never have entered the euro”, my friend lamented. “Everything went downhill from there. For us and for everyone.”
Until recently, it was extremely hard to find members of the Portuguese business and political elite who would entertain such thoughts. I remember visiting the country in late 2002, and writing a gloomy column for The Economist which made the argument that the euro was working out very badly for Portugal. I recieved a courteous welcome in Lisbon. But I think they dismissed what I had to say as the ramblings of a Eurosceptic Brit.