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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 16:42 GMT
France readies for euro revolution
Lise - the face of the euro in France
Lise : The face of the euro in France
James Coomarasamy filed this report from the western city of Nantes for BBC World Service's Europe Today.

The programme will be broadcasting monthly special reports on the preparations for the launch of euro coins and notes in 12 European states at the start of 2002.

She's called Lise and - in just a couple of weeks - she's become one of the best-known faces on French television.


In our area only 13% of the small businesses are ready... a very small number

Philippe Moreau, Nantes businessman
She's a chirpy teenager whom the government has chosen to front its new euro-information campaign.

In the first of a series of short adverts, designed to answer some of the public's questions, she explains the timetable for the introduction of the new currency.

It's young, it's snappy, but does it work? Opinion in France appears to be divided.

Concern for elderly

"It's not so clear. It was not very well done and we don't understand who it is made for," said one man I met on the streets of Nantes.

Finance Minister Laurent Fabius
Laurent Fabius: Timely note of caution
Another said: "It will probably convince and help the youngest people to understand it.

"But I'm afraid as far as the elderly people are concerned, it would be as hard as any other currency change that might have happened in the past, especially in France."

As French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius launched the information campaign, he drew attention to the lack of preparation - not among the general public but among small businesses.

Philippe Moreau, who runs a small company in Nantes which specializes in making water sprinklers, says Mr Fabius has sounded a timely note of caution.

Double revolution

Small businesses have only just got used to coping with the new shorter working week, he says - so the euro has been somewhat ignored.

Goods priced in francs and euros
Shoppers are already used to prices in francs and euros
"Actually in our area only 13% of the small businesses are ready. That's a very small number.

"I think the reason is that we have two cultural revolutions in France now.

"There's the 35-hour week which costs enormously in terms of money, and the change with the euro is another problem, but a secondary one."

But the euro is rapidly becoming a primary concern.

Mr Moreau is not alone in calling for extra support from the government, which he says has been slow to adapt to the euro itself.

And that will mean more money he hopes to cope with the administrative costs - and not just an advertising campaign.

Are you ready for the euro? Write to us with your questions - Europe Today will ask an expert to answer a selection of them next month.


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Europe Today is the World Service's specialist programme for European news - about Europe, from Europe. It's on air at 1700 GMT (1800 CET) from Monday to Friday, on 648 KHz (and on FM in many European cities - check our website for frequencies).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jamie Coomarasamy's report from Nantes
"The euro is rapidly becoming a primary concern"
See also:

08 Feb 01 | Business
30 Oct 99 | Business
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