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Thursday, 24 August, 2000, 19:25 GMT 20:25 UK
Banks want Euro under armed guard
euro notes and woman
The future is in her hands - but is it safe?
Banks in Germany have warned that a lack of preparation for the introduction of the Euro currency could have serious security implications.

From September next year, billions of Euros in hard currency will be delivered to bank branches across Germany.

The German Banking Association says that the army would need to be deployed to guarantee the currency's safe introduction.

On Thursday, however, the German Armed Forces Association said the use of troops to guard cash transports was not allowed under the country's constitution.

Overdue debate

The enormous security implications of introducing the Euro currency simultaneously in 12 countries are only now becoming a subject of public debate.

euro coins
The euro - soon in a bank near you?
The Euro, which currently exists as a virtual currency, will be introduced in cash form from 1 January 2002.

In Germany alone, notes and coins worth a $125bn will be changed from Deutschmarks into Euros.

But German banks say there is no adequate central plan for dealing with the risks.

They say the country needs 1,000 extra security vans to transport the cash, and preferably they should be guarded by soldiers - but that option was described as "unthinkable" by Germany's Armed Forces Association.

Instead, it said it would be possible to provide weapons and armoured cars for use by the police.

Army barracks

The banks say another problem will be the lack of space to store the new notes and coins.

They suggest army barracks should be used.

In Germany - the biggest member of the Euro zone - more than 2bn notes and 15bn coins will be brought into circulation in a matter of weeks.

During that period, it is estimated, banks will have six times more cash on site than normal.

The German banks' decision to air their concerns publicly reflects a growing urgency in the preparations for the Euro's introduction as a hard currency.

Bank branches will be in the front line of the changeover, with prime responsibility for collecting Deutschmarks and handing out Euros.

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See also:

18 Jan 99 | Euro latest
Early euro cash 'unlikely'
04 Jan 99 | Euro latest
Confident start for euro
11 Feb 99 | Euro latest
UK support for euro at record high
10 May 99 | Euro latest
British support for euro falls
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