Persson calls on Swedes to vote 'Yes' on euro

 

Adopting the euro would give Swedes more money to spend, Prime Minister Mr Goran Persson said yesterday, kicking off the final leg of campaigning for Swedens referendum on the European single currency.

By voting "yes" for the euro on September 14th, Sweden would also be able to wield more influence in European Union policy making, said Mr Persson, who is battling to overturn the anti-euro camp's clear lead in opinion polls.

"It is safer to be part of a bigger currency than to be alone on the international financial markets' stormy speculative oceans," Mr Persson said in a speech.

Protection against speculation would create better conditions for growth and employment, while euro zone interest rates would be lower than outside the region, bringing down housing costs, he said.

Food, which behind housing accounts for the biggest chunk of household spending for most Swedes, would become cheaper as a result of tougher competition and price transparency. "The euro is good for the economy," Mr Persson said, adding he could not say how many jobs would be created, or by how much interest rates and food prices would fall.

Independent economists and anti-euro campaigners criticise the "yes" side for what they see as its exaggerated promises of more than 100,000 new jobs in a country where 200,000 are openly unemployed, and an increase in disposable income equalling one month's net wages for an average household.

Mr Persson's speech to an audience of about 1,500 contained no new arguments yesterday and some analysts said he may be sensing the battle is already lost.

Opinion polls published in the past month have put euro opponents in the lead by, on average, 14 percentage points. The "yes" side has not been ahead in any poll since late March. Mr Persson does not regard the referendum as a vote of confidence in his government and said he would not step down if Swedes reject the euro.