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The BBC's Rob Pittam
"Opinion on the Euro is divided"
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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Dutch relax over euro launch
Euro starter packs being prepared for the Dutch
Euro starter packs being prepared
As countries across Europe prepare for the coming single currency, BBC Working Lunch's Rob Pittam reports from Breda in the Netherlands on how the Dutch are getting ready.

The famously laid back Dutch are facing the approach of the euro with typical calm.

Despite having the most ambitious programme in Europe for integrating the new currency, they're anticipating few problems.

The euro comes into force on 1 January 2002.

Dutch Guilders
Dutch Guilders - heading for extinction
The Dutch have given themselves just 28 days to take the guilder out of circulation, in contrast to the two months allowed in most other countries.

Anyone who misses the deadline will have up to 30 years to get to a bank and convert their old money into new.

But from 28 January shops will no longer accept Dutch guilders.

The view from Breda

In Breda in the south of the Netherlands there's a 700-year-old market.

For most of that time they've been shopping with guilders but there seem to be few qualms about giving up the currency.

Ruud Evers
Ruud Evers: "very positive" about the Euro

Argan Jonk runs a fish stall in the market. He's expecting the changeover to go smoothly.

"We expect a bit of confusion for the first two or three weeks, but everyone will get used to it pretty quickly."

Ruud Evers was shopping in the market. He's a keen fan of the euro.

"I'm very positive about it," he said. "It will be great for European Union for everyone to have the same currency."

Other shoppers had their reservations.

"I don't like the euro," said Yokea Bendrlow. "I think Holland is Holland, England is England and France is France. When I go abroad I like to speak different languages and use different currencies. That's what makes those countries interesting. It seems a shame to take away all those differences."

Getting ready

Whether they are for it or against it though, everyone accepts the euro is coming.

Now they're concentrating on the practical implications of the changeover.

Louis Seeuwen
Louis Seeuwen - sees long term benefits from the new currency
Some businesses are worried by the fact that euro notes and coins won't be widely available until the actual moment of the switchover.

At midnight on New Year's Eve, cash dispensers will switch from giving out Guilders to dispensing Euros.

Louis Seeuwen, who represents small and medium-sized businesses in Breda, says that could lead to chaos in the market square as revellers rush to try out the new currency.

In the long term, though, he can see the benefits.

Breda is close to the Belgian border, and Louis has just moved to Belgium. "It means we'll be able to move around more easily. And consumers can see if things like petrol for example are cheaper in one country or another."

Sympathy for Britain

Surprisingly, whether they were for or against the euro, most we people spoke to agreed with Britain's "wait and see" policy.

Fruit and veg seller John Beekers joked that the British were "the troublemakers of Europe."

But he added: "I think you are right to stay out to wait to see how it goes."

Euro supporter Ruud Evers was not so sure.

"I think it's a shame. Culturally and historically, I can understand your reluctance. But I think it would help the success of whole venture if Britain was to join."

Meanwhile the business community is looking to exploit the new currency. Louis thinks he's spotted a gap in the market.

"The fashion industry will be very busy because the new coins and notes are bigger than the old ones. They're very worried in Italy that everyone's purses and trousers will wear out quickly, so we'll all need trousers with bigger pockets," he said.

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See also:

16 Jul 01 | Business
Germans 'unhappy over euro'
12 Jul 01 | Europe
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02 Jul 01 | Europe
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