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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 12:40 GMT
Euro creep: Will familiarity breed consent?
euro creep n, noun, process by which the European single currency is expected to edge its way into British life.

APPLICATION: On 1 January 2002, euro notes and coins will appear in 12 European countries, although not the UK, which opted out of Economic Monetary Union. Three instances expected:

  • Brits returning from eurozone countries, including Republic of Ireland, euros in pocket
  • heightened price comparisons between Sterling and the euro
  • tourists from eurozone being allowed to spend their euros in UK High Street shops

VERIFICATION: Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and WH Smith will accept the single currency from the start of 2002. NCP car parks is adjusting its vending machines to accept euros and shopping trolleys at Tesco already have a slot for euro coins.

ORIGINS: euro creep actually dates back to the start of 1999, when the euro first "went live" as a non-cash currency. Since then more than 55,000 business and 20,000 individual euro bank accounts have been opened in Britain.

CITATION: "Euro-creep is a phenomenon which will become more and more prevalent," Ian Fletcher, chief economist at British Chambers of Commerce.

VERIFICATION 2: "With 13 million tourists from the eurozone expected in Britain next year, spending more than 4bn, it is no surprise that some of Britain's major retailers will accept euros," said Simon Buckby, director of Britain in Europe.

DISPUTED: electronics chain Dixons will welcome euro notes even though its chairman, Sir Stanley Kalms, is a leading light in Business for Sterling.

SELF-COMPLETING: jokes about French or Italian crooners being euro creeps expected to write themselves. Of these, at least, widespread adoption by the general public inevitable.

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