weren't countries like spain or portugal catching up big time in the 90s - without the euro? i don't know how greece or italy were doing but i guess the picture wasn't any different. the south used to come to terms with their structural currency woes over centuries, why not keep it that way?
Spain had 24% unemployment in 1995 (even higher than now!). There might have been some comparative progress, but the gap was always there. And the gap is conspicuous and significant, too significant to be ignored or to accept it as the satisfying status quo.