The eurozone was flawed from the beginning and efforts to tackle its problems have so far been "too little too late", the architect of the single currency has said.
Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, suggested that "a fault in execution" had doomed the euro to its present crisis.
Leaders in the 1990s chose to turn a blind eye to the economic weaknesses of some member states, and the response now the issues had surfaced had generally been inadequate.
The intervention, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, came as France and Germany edged towards closer fiscal union to head off a potentially disastrous collapse of the single currency.
Mr Delors, head of the commission from 1985 to 1995 and known for his clashes with Margaret Thatcher, admitted that when "Anglo-Saxons" warned that a single central bank and currency without a single state would be inherently unstable "they had a point".
"The finance ministers did not want to see anything disagreeable which they would be forced to deal with," he said.
Mr Delors insisted that all European countries had to share the blame for excessive borrowing by countries such as Italy and Greece that have brought the system to the brink of disaster. "Everyone must examine their consciences," he added.
However, the 86-year-old singled out Germany for its strict insistence that the European Central Bank must not support debt-stricken members for fear of fuelling inflation. The euro's troubles spring from "a combination of the stubbornness of the Germanic idea of monetary control and the absence of a clear vision from all the other countries".
Former chancellor Lord Lamont, who negotiated Britain's opt-out from the single currency, said Mr Delors deserved "credit" for his comments.
"Jacques Delors' remarks are hugely significant, particularly his admission that those who said you cannot have a single currency without a single government 'had a point'," he said.