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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 20:39 GMT
Experts predict hitches for euro launch
Rolls of 25 euro coins
Before long they'll be in tills and pockets in 12 states
European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes Mira and British economist Paul Temperton told the BBC World Service's Europe Today that the launch of euro might catch some businesspeople unprepared.

Europe Today 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.

Pedro Solbes Mira: It's a very complicated logistical operation and we can expect some misadjustments.

Enterprises don't realise that they have to be completely adapted by January 2002

Pedro Solbes Mira
My main preoccupation is to have enough notes in the market, small notes, at the beginning of the process - but this is from the point of view of citizens. From the point of view of enterprises, the key question is to have the changeover plans adopted in due time.

Enterprises don't realise that they have to be completely adapted to the new system by January 2002 - not as some of them think by the end of June 2002.

People are really a bit too relaxed about this changeover

Paul Temperton
Paul Temperton: The financial market changeover went very well - no problems. Y2K went very well - no problems. Maybe this is third time unlucky. I don't want to sound unduly pessimistic, but I detect people are really a bit too relaxed about this changeover - maybe because it doesn't happen on just one day, or one weekend. We have got a bit of leeway; we have got a few weeks, but still it's a monumental change.

Pedro Solbes Mira
Pedro Solbes: The euro has already brough benefits
Pedro Solbes Mira denied that the European Commission was at fault for failing to inject more passion and pezazz into the preparations for the euro launch: It's true that the rate of exchange, the monetary policy, is something that's not so relevant from the point of view of citizens [but] we insist very much on the relevance of this aspect.

We think that this aspect has been crucial from the point of view of:

  • creating a high rate of growth
  • protecting Europe from external crisis
  • creating an integrated financial market, which has been crucial for the globalisation of European enterprises

Monetary unions like this have all broken up after 25 or 30 years

Paul Temperton
Many many positive results have already been obtained from the process. The problem is that normal citizens normally don't realise this kind of effect, or they don't connect this effect with decisions on the euro.

Paul Temperton said that there was a risk that some people, such as poorly prepared shop keepers and small businesspeople, would continue to operate in the old currency after it officially ceased to be legal tender at the end of February 2002: I don't think the changeover will be very straightforward, and we know from historic experience that monetary unions like this have all broken up after 25 or 30 years - this is the rather unfortunate historical precedent.

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).

Pedro Solbes Mira
"It's a shared responsibility between the EU and the member states"
Paul Temperton
"The old currency won't be legal tender, but that doesn't mean it won't be used"
See also:

08 Feb 01 | Business
Q&A: Euro basics
30 Oct 99 | Business Basics
European Central Bank
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