BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 18 May, 2001, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Swiss Alps no barrier to euro
Camedo near the Swiss-Italian border
Alpin neighbours will bring the euro across Swiss borders
By Imogen Foulkes in Berne

Give up our franc? You must be crazy!

This is the sort of sentiment expressed in readers' letters everytime a Swiss newspaper floats the idea that it might be sensible for Switzerland to adapt its monetary policy to the advent of the euro.

Swiss francs
Realistically the franc and the euro will be used side by side
"Better a strong franc than a weak euro!" is the typical response.

The problem is, it is no longer really an either or situation.

Switzerland, though not a member of the European Union, is surrounded by Euroland.

In several sections of Swiss business and industry, the euro has already arrived.


Even if we don't give up the franc, the euro will come

Swiss hotelier
Switzerland's metal and machine tool industry does most of its business with the European Union, and a survey carried out this spring determined that these companies were increasingly using the euro rather than the franc to conduct business.

Nowadays, their EU clients demand to be invoiced in euros, and they want to be paid in euros.

In this situation, a weak euro together with a strong franc costs Swiss companies money - which, the survey revealed, they have been passing on in increased prices.

Swiss Alpenhorn players
Tourists will want to pay for Swiss attractions in euros
The head of the Swiss National Bank confirmed recently that the franc would not shadow the euro because Switzerland wanted its monetary policy to reflect the domestic rather than the European economic situation, and because closer links to the common currency might mean higher interest rates.

All very sound, unless you run a small Swiss company which relies on exporting its product to the European Union.


The euro is just another currency

Economics Ministry
Switzerland's tourism industry too has been quietly adapting to the euro - many foreign visitors to Switzerland are tourists from Japan, Korea and India.

They are on package tours to Europe, they will be spending euros in Paris, Rome or Berlin, and they do not see why the Swiss alps should be the excepton.

Already many Swiss hotels and restaurants, cable car companies and souvenir shops are displaying prices in euros.

"Even if we don't give up the franc, the euro will come," said one leading hotelier, "and when our guests start bringing in euros, we will accept them."

euros
The Swiss will have to learn to deal with them
At the Swiss economics ministry there is no surprise at this pragmatic approach: "The euro is just another currency like the deutschemark or the dollar," said a spokesman, "and for some sections of Swiss business it is sensible to adapt to it.'"

So although Switzerland's official policy may be to keep the franc away from the euro, in sectors where it matters, the two currencies are developing quite a cosy relationship.

See also:

15 May 01 | Business
13 Apr 01 | Europe
13 Apr 01 | Europe
23 Mar 01 | Europe
08 Feb 01 | Business
20 Mar 01 | Business
14 Feb 01 | Europe
30 Oct 99 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes