Pierre Werner, 88; Former Prime Minister and ‘Father of Euro’

Pierre Werner, 88, the former Luxembourgian prime minister who proposed a common European currency that eventually materialized as the euro, died Monday of natural causes in Luxembourg.

A lawyer, he entered politics with the Christian Social People’s Party, becoming finance minister of the tiny landlocked country in 1953 and then prime minister from 1959 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1984. He is credited with helping Luxembourg become one of Western Europe’s richest nations by developing it into a banking and financial center as its traditional steel industry foundered.

The visionary Werner proposed a shared currency for the European Economic Community in 1970. Although it took three decades for his plan to reach fruition, he was regarded as the “father of the euro.” His hopes for a common currency had been stalled initially by economic upheavals surrounding the oil crisis of the early 1970s.

Werner also supported greater European integration on political as well as economic fronts. After leaving government, he devoted himself to business as chairman of the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Telediffusion and later the Societe Europeenne des Satellites.