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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 08:05 GMT
First euro coins hit the streets

The European public will have their first opportunity to see the new European currency coins, when small packs of them - known as starter kits - are made available in some eurozone countries on Friday.

France, the Netherlands and Ireland are the first countries to issue the euro starter kits.

By Monday, samples of the new coins will be available in 12 member states.

For security reasons euro banknotes are not being issued to the public until 1 January, when the new currency will be launched officially.

Correspondents say strike action by bank workers in France has cast some doubt over how smooth the changeover will be, with industrial action due to take place there on Friday and at the start of the new year.

RN

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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