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EDITIONS
Friday, 11 October, 2002, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Too many euros?
euro notes
Would more flexibility lead to less credibility?
When the euro notes and coins came into existence on 1 January 2002, governments were afraid of not having enough to go around.

Ten months later, Germany and France have admitted they sharply over-estimated the coins' usage and are faced with a mounting surplus.

In France alone, more than 3 billion excess coins are now being stored by the Bank of France.

This is a costly exercise and one critics have lamented for starting before the old Francs have even been melted.

Grand ideas

With the launch of the new currency, the European central bank left it to the discretion of individual countries to decide their own quotas.

Some, it seems, were more ambitious than others.

A report in the Ouest-France newspaper said that while a number of countries had eyes bigger than their wallets, France is suffering the biggest surplus.

Euro coins
French shopkeepers had worried about running out

The French government ordered more than 8 billion euro coins to be produced from the Pressac mint in Geronde, but so far only 5 billion have entered circulation.

The result is 3 billion euro coins, enough to fill 500 articulated lorries, looking for a home.

German reticence

Germany is also using less euros than originally hoped.

The finance ministry said on Friday that over the 17 billion coins minted for the euro launch at the start of the year, only around 10 billion are currently in circulation.

However, the ministry pointed to seasonal fluctuations and said coin usage could rise sharply in the run-up to Christmas.

German euros coins being transported by van
German euros looking for a home

Ouest-France was less forgiving, calling France the "champion of over-production", and says the tax-payer bears the brunt of the "abyss between provision and reality.

Euros going cheap?

But what to do?

Ouest-France said France entertained fewer tourists this summer than in recent years, meaning there is the potential for an even greater euro-influx of coins in the coming months.

The solution, it said, could be found in welcoming the new entrants to the European union - and offering discounted coins.

Ten new, mainly eastern, countries are set to enter the European Union in 2004, as part of plans to extend the stability and prosperity of current member states to a wider group of countries.

Cheap euros anyone?

See also:

24 Sep 02 | Business
16 Sep 02 | Business
15 Sep 02 | Business
16 Sep 02 | Politics
12 Sep 02 | Business
11 Jul 02 | Business
10 Jul 02 | Business
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