Membership of the euro single currency used to be considered a badge of honour, a sign that a European nation had been accepted into an elite club.
But the debt turmoil raging in the 16-nation euro zone has dampened the enthusiasm of the EU's eastern member states to sign up.
Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, last month scotched expectations that his country might join as soon as 2014. "That isn't on the agenda for us at the moment," he said after a meeting in Prague with Christian Wulff, the president of Germany. "We're not in a hurry to become a member."
The Czech Republic with its impressive growth and solid finances would have few problems meeting the economic criteria needed to qualify for the single currency. In fact, its budget deficit, although still above the 3 per cent-of-GDP ceiling, is lower than many euro member states.
Its reluctance echoes a decline in popular support for the euro in a number of eastern European countries, even though most of their governments still insist publicly they would like to adopt the currency as soon as possible.
For Germany and the euro zone as a whole, expanding the currency union is well down the list of priorities. They are preoccupied with the prospect of having to bail out Portugal, Spain and even Italy next. Besides, they first need to restore public faith in the euro at home. A survey published last week by Infratest dimap, a leading poll institute, showed 60 per cent of Germans believed the euro had brought them personal disadvantages, and slightly more than half said it would have been better to keep the deutsche mark. The growing doubts about the euro both in eastern Europe and in core member states highlight the dramatic loss of faith in the single currency this year. The decline in its reputation isn't just explained by Greek accounting tricks, Irish extravagance, rampant speculators and basic design flaws in the architecture of the single currency.
Throughout this year and in the past two months in particular the euro has also been hit hard by flawed crisis management. The criticism of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has been wholly justified.
She unsettled markets with her ill-timed insistence that private-sector creditors - mainly banks - be forced to share the burden of sovereign bailouts.
But instead of preparing a detailed proposal and then explaining it coherently, the German government confused markets about its intentions by letting elements of the plan trickle out.
The poor communication and initial lack of co-ordination will have contributed to eastern European doubts about joining the euro.
Even Mrs Merkel's euro-zone partners are tiring of her constant finger-wagging about the need for budget restraint and for rigorous new budget and bailout rules. Her delay in helping out Greece made that country's rescue more expensive than it need have been. Her insistence on private-sector risk sharing pushed Ireland closer to the brink.
And Germany's moans about its "European paymaster" role sound hypocritical given that Germany has benefited more than any other country from the euro. Without the euro, a German national currency would now be surging to levels at which the country could kiss its export industries goodbye. Besides, on a per capital basis, the Dutch and the people of Luxembourg are paying more towards the Irish bailout than the Germans.
In the end, more radical measures may be needed to stabilise the euro, but Germany does not want the euro zone to turn into a "transfer union" in which Germany keeps bailing out weaker economies.
However, the euro must survive, whatever the cost, because there is no alternative. Once leaders make that clear it will start becoming attractive to new members again.