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Sunday, January 3, 1999 Published at 18:00 GMT

Launch of the euro

This week Brussels Correspondent David Eades took your questions about the launch of the new euro money.

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You can read more about his job and life as a European correspondent by clicking here.

Or you can read David's answers to some of the questions below, put to him during the programme. Some were taken from e-mails that you sent in both before and during the programme. Others were asked by listeners calling in from around the world.

Peter Montgomery from Geneva: Why wasn't euro introduced with notes and coins ready for use. Why the three year wait? So that the currency can be undone if it all goes wrong?
David Eades : A very good question. I think in the simplest of terms it is such a huge effort to establish the new currency that the idea that you could distribute notes and coins at the same time across all counties and expect the system to work asking too much. The level of understanding and appreciation among the populations of Europe at the moment is actually really low. I think there would be awful trouble if they were introduced now because people wouldn_t have a handle on what they were for.

Carl Scerry from Malta: Can people purchase goods in one country with coins and notes with the symbols of different countries?
David Eades: Yes you can once the coins are there, it doesn't matter which country the coins are minted in. Whatever is on the back it can be exchanged in any other country taking part in the euro. And it will always have on the other side of the coin the one Euro or whatever it is. So I don't think there should be too much confusion.

Robin Lustig : Are there going to be national symbols on the coin, either a flag or some other symbol?

[ image: Euro fear or euro frenzy?]
Euro fear or euro frenzy?
David Eades: The coins can have for example a King or Queen's head on one side and a simple euro sign on the other. It's a little less clear with the notes, they will no longer have national symbols but instead unidentifiable but typical European symbols like bridges, ornate windows and stylised maps of Europe.

Alan Greenwood from the UK: What's the difference between an ecu and a euro?
David Eades: Well the euro is alive and the ecu is dead. The ecu was a basket of currencies of the twelve then members of the European Union. The Ecu was never seen as a single currency and there was never an ecu coin. The euro if you like is like starting again, and this time it does have a conclusion and that is the euro becomes the only coin.

George Durban, USA: Could the euro lead to a world currency?
David Eades: Ultimately it will be a world currency, up there with the Dollar and the Yen. It has to be with the size of the economies that make up the size of the Euro zone - almost as large and powerful economic area as the United States. It will become a major reserve currency .

Victor Yarden, New York: What would happen if after a short time a few countries decide to opt out?
David Eades: The bottom line is Victor that they can_t . They've thrown their lot in with the Euro zone. It's as much a political decision as an economic one and the fact is that they can_t really go back.

John Skinner from Bahrain: I'm an expatriate here, but have two boys at school in Ireland. We are paid in a currency that is tied to the dollar, but we can also be paid in euros or the Irish punt. So I just want to know which is best?
David Eades: Well, that's actually an easier question than it sounds. The Irish punt and the euro are to all intense and purposes the same. The rate of the euro to the punt is fixed, so whatever happens in the greater outside world to the euro, the Irish punt just moves along with that.

Robin Lustig: You work in Brussels. A lot of the stuff you have to deal with sounds pretty boring to the rest of the world. Is that a problem for you?

David Eades: If I spent my life here in Brussels I would go batty because it is a world of declarations, statements, white papers and green papers and non papers.

But I think the fun and challenge of the job is that I have the chance to go out around Europe and find some illustrations for a lot of these points. I remember about a year ago now going to do some features in Greece for a story on the euro. And we stumbled upon a group of Kurdish refugees who had just been rescued from a Turkish boat. And they had come to what they saw as paradise. They had found the world they had been seeking and they were going to set up their lives anew in Europe.

Basically I had to give them with the news that life wasn't so simple and that there was to a certain extent a fortress Europe who they were going to come up against, and most likely would be told "I'm afraid you can't stay here."

David Eades biography

is 35 years-old and is married with two boys.

"I joined the BBC in 1987 as a trainee in local radio; my greatest claim to fame was to report live hundreds of feet below the seabed of the English Channel at the moment Britain joined France by land ... the breakthrough of the Channel Tunnel.

After working around Britain, in Merseyside, Yorkshire, Kent and Surrey, I moved to the World Service newsroom in 1992. Two years later, I got my first chance to move abroad and work as a foreign correspondent out of Brussels.

I have been trying to come to terms with the complexities of the European Union ever since! That means anything from protests by honey-farmers in Italy to Europe's global pretensions and of course, the intricate workings of the Single Currency.

Living and working 'over here' has been wonderful for me - a Francophile - and for the family.

My wife, Felicity, who is also a journalist, has worked for a host of different companies, including the BBC in radio and television.

Oliver (7) has blossomed into a fluent French speaker, and his little brother, Robert (4) can grunt his way through most situations!

But the joy of the job has been the travel. My first trip away was to Lapland - the Finnish north, where I seemed to spend most of my time husky-sleigh riding, tobogganing and recovering.

And it's never really stopped; from interviews with Kurdish refugees escaping into the Greek islands, to north Norwegian fishermen desperate to stay out of the EU; from mad cow crises to the creation of the Euro; it's certainly been a mixed bag."

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