Does the Euro have a future?
The eurozone cannot survive in its current form - that is the alarming prediction of top economists and politicians of all political hues, among them the former Chancellors Alistair Darling, Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont.
In interviews and articles for The Independent today, the experts were asked for their short-term and long-term predictions for the future of the euro.
While most believe the eurozone may well survive the current Greek debt crisis - especially given the political will invested in preventing a disorderly default - none is confident that the contagion could be contained, and most believe the new European Fiscal Compact agreed in principle on Monday is unsustainable as it would take key financial powers from national governments - and their electorates.Many of the politicians and economists criticised the rush to austerity being imposed on Greece and Italy, suggesting it would be counter-productive by depressing growth, and said the competitive imbalances between eurozone members would be impossible to overcome.
They suggested the ultimate consequence of the crisis would be a much smaller eurozone with Germany at the centre and countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy and Ireland on the outside.
The only strong note of optimism was sounded by Olli Rehn, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the euro, who predicted the currency would emerge stronger from the crisis.
"We are undertaking nothing less than an economic reformation of Europe," he said.
"Step by step, we are creating financial stability and the conditions for sustainable growth and job creation."
But Mr Darling said: "I don't think anyone can realistically say the eurozone will survive with its present membership and the longer the inaction goes on, the greater the chance that one or more countries will be forced out.
"I think there is an eerie calm at the moment which I hope people are not taken in by. We haven't had a crisis in January, but none of the problems around at the end of 2011 have gone."
Nouriel Roubini, the professor of economics at New York University who predicted the collapse of the US housing market which led to the 2008 crash, agreed: "The eurozone is a slow-motion train wreck. Not only Greece, other countries as well are insolvent. There's a 50 per cent probability that over the next three to five years the euro zone will break up. Not all the members are able to stay."
Danny Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College and former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, added: "The fundamental problem that has not been addressed is that there is no growth plan for Greece.
"Even if you give them a new loan, they have no means of paying it back."
Former Chancellors Lords Lawson and Lamont believed the crisis had been long in the making - and could not be addressed by policy makers.
"You cannot impose a political union against the wishes of the people - at least in countries which call themselves democracies," said Lord Lawson.
"If you cannot impose political union then the monetary union is not going to work."