OPINION

Don’t blame high prices on the euro

The incredibly high level of euro-skepticism in Greece could be attributed to a number of misunderstandings. It is commonly thought that the launch of Europe’s single currency triggered a surge in the cost of living and this has in turn affected the public’s overall stance toward the European Union. The hike in prices is undisputable but it is wrong to blame it on the introduction of the common currency – at least exclusively. This is, firstly, because inflation existed before the euro and, secondly, because one cannot say with certainty where prices would stand today if the drachma was still in circulation. A look back at the devaluations of Greece’s now-ditched national currency, the 20 percent inflation rate and a loan rate that hovered at 25 percent, forces a rethink: The adoption of the euro has been to the benefit of the average household. Therefore, high prices must be attributed to market distortions. Profiteering and price fixing abound. Customers often achieve better prices by placing orders online with US-based shops than by purchasing them at their local supplier. Meanwhile, milk prices in Greece are 35 percent higher than the EU average. The real villain is not the euro currency – which after all is only a means of exchange – but the profiteers who are left unchecked. The most dangerous place to be is in bed – most people seem to die there, it was once famously said. Blaming the high cost of living on the euro is likewise an absurd correlation.