The Goldman Sachs Global Economics, Commodities and Strategy Research team:
There have been significant changes in the relative importance of trends in intra- and extraarea trade over time. At the formation of the Euro in 1999, exports destined for outside the Euro area and exports between countries within the Euro area were equally important (in gross terms). Extra-area exports are now around 50% larger than exports to partners within the Euro area.
A large part of this is the story of global catch-up. The period since the Euro's inception has seen markets develop across the world. Particularly as the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) mature. While it may have been less nonsensical to concentrate on only the 11 adopters of the currency in 1999, to focus on the trade opportunities available from the present 17 Eurozone members is even more absurd.
It is important to note that pursuing export volumes is not an end goal. Paul Krugman explains why:
We should be able to teach students that imports, not exports, are the purpose of trade. That is, what a country gains from trade is the ability to import things it wants. Exports are not an objective in and of themselves: the need to export is a burden that a country must bear because its import suppliers are crass enough to demand payment.