As tension mounts over the impending French and Dutch referendums on the new European Union treaty, the arguments are growing more fevered. This week's prize for the most ludicrous addition to the debate must surely go the suggestion from Dutch opponents that the treaty should be rejected because the introduction of the euro in place of the guilder has reduced Dutch spending power.

Even if it were true that the Dutch currency was undervalued when euro parities were fixed (which is, to say the least, debatable), no way can a No vote on the treaty have any impact on the agreement reached in 1998 by EU heads of state and government - including, naturally, the Dutch prime minister. Unless, that is, the proponents of this position are prepared also to argue that a No to the treaty will lead to a melt-down of the EU and of its currency. Only then might the guilder re-emerge - but amid the ashes of the EU, there would seem even less prospect of an increase in Dutch spending power.

There are plenty of arguments that can be honestly advanced on both sides in what is turning into one of the biggest - if perhaps one of the least well-informed - public debates Europe has ever seen.

It is possible to sympathise with fears expressed by treaty opponents about the social costs if Europe turns...

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