The EU has warned member states they will have to pay to leave the euro
EU chiefs said countries looking to axe the unpopular single currency will have to pay back all their debts in one go before they can leave, making such a move massively unaffordable.
The pronouncement comes after prominent politicians in a number of member states including Italy, France, Greece and the Netherlands have all made noises about ditching the euro.
Eurosceptic chiefs in Paris and Rome have promised to hold referendums on their countries' membership of the eurozone if they sweep to power in a major crisis for Brussels.
The Five Star Movement is currently leading the polls in Italy whilst Marine Le Pen is currently on course to win the first round of the French presidential election.
EU central bank chief Mario Draghi said countries would have to pay off their debts to quit
Support for the single currency has tumbled across the bloc
And today eurocrats, who are increasingly nervous about the populist revolution sweeping the continent, issued a veiled threat of economic armageddon in a bid to dissuade further dissension amongst member states.
In a rare admission about the strength of feeling building up against Brussels the Italian pen-pusher Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), said countries leaving the euro will face huge financial consequences.
Writing a letter to two Italian MPs, he confirmed: “If a country were to leave the Eurosystem, its national central bank’s claims on or liabilities to the ECB would need to be settled in full."
Italy's liabilities to the ECB stand at a whopping £310 billion (€358bn), with the country having had to borrow huge sums of money from Brussels to stave off years of economic stagnation which many blame the euro for.
Even if Italian voters chose in a democratic referendum to leave the single currency and return to the lira, it is unclear how the country's Government could raise enough cash to pay off such a mammoth bill in one go.
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France's deficit is a more manageable £33bn (€38bn) whilst Greece's is £26bn (€30.5bn), but with being forced to stump up such gargantuan amounts would be politically difficult in the face of a vote rejecting the EU project.
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The latest polling figures, published by the EU's Eurobarometer survey in October last year, show that support for the euro has tumbled across the bloc over the last 12 months.
In Italy 47 per cent of voters now think the single currency is bad for their country, compared to 41 per cent who believe it has a positive effect on the economy.
And in France backing for the euro fell saw a negative swing of 10 per cent in the space of a year, with 53 per cent now in favour of the EU-wide currency and 37 per cent against it.