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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 12:40 GMT
Are you ready for the euro?
Delivery vans have been working round the clock across Europe to supply businesses in the 12-nation eurozone with a new currency.
The use of the euro as a legal tender - as opposed to its use by banks and other financial institutions - will be the key test of monetary union, the project that has dominated the EU for the past decade.
The new euro notes and coins will be used by 300 million citizens in 12 countries - the biggest currency switch over ever attempted.
If you live in the eurozone, are you ready for the euro? If not, what are your views?
This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Gregory White, UK
I hope that the euro is a further step towards a United States of Europe!!!
We need the UK on board as well.
The government will delay any referendum until the next general election where a vote for Labour will be a vote for the euro. With no credible opposition party at Westminster, I fear we may be dragged into the euro. The majority of UK citizens don't know enough about what the pros and cons of a single currency are because there hasn't been any debate. At present our economy is good as the Bank of England controls our interest rates. At what price the euro?
I think the euro is a good idea. It will make it even easier for people to see just how much the British Government is ripping them off with high fuel duty and taxes on cigarettes and alcohol
Although it is 'nice' to have our own currency, pride in it can go too far. And pride comes before a fall. I am undecided about UK entry but the reality is that that the UK does share a land border with a Eurozone country - and here in Ireland we're adapting to it whether we like it or not.
As a retired European civil servant of 20 years service, by practical experience I know that if a nation gives up its freedom for commercial gain, it will lose both!
Surely the best policy for the UK is to sit back and watch what happens in the rest of Europe. A couple of years down the line, if it's working we join in, if not we can stay out.
I live in the North West and, frankly, I have had enough of local manufacturing being hammered every time things are going well in London.
According to the governor of the BoE so succinctly put it "unemployment in the North is the price we pay to keep inflation under control in the South"
A common currency with Europe, Hah! We would be better off with a different currency for each region of the UK.
Any decision on the Euro should be based only on economic studies and not anything as sentimental or foolish as "national identity". I am not little pieces of paper or little gold coins, I am not less British because I favour the metric system over old imperial weights and measures, or because I prefer the simple concept of pounds and pence as opposed to shillings, guineas, farthings and God knows what else. I am no less British because I happen to love curries, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Korean or Japanese food, or indeed because I have friends from many and varied ethnic backgrounds (who consider themselves no less British than I).
I would rather be known as a countryman of a nation that shows respect and tolerance for all it's citizens beliefs and cultures, than as someone who stubbornly clings to outdated ill-conceived ideas simply because they were British.
I want to know what's best for our country's future, rather than reminiscing about it's past.
We need informed rational debate about the issues at hand, not clouded emotional ranting brought on by jingoism and xenophobia in the media and elsewhere.
The only real issue I have with the Euro presently is its incredibly naff name, as for its economic sense, we shall see.
I don't think there will be too many complaints from international travellers when they find out that they don't have to relearn the exchange rates as they travel between Eurozone countries. And the euro's current rate is similar enough to the US dollar, that it will make spending money even more inviting for American tourists. And yes, despite the recent doom and gloom, we still have money to spend. I can't wait for my next trip to Europe.
I bought my first euro starter kit last Friday and I was very excited! With the Euro, Europe will be a very powerful economy in the world and that counts! Before, using the same currency across Europe was just a dream; in 15 days time, it will be the reality! I am proud to live this event! Changing currency does not mean losing our identity: on the French coins of the Euro, we will keep the 'Marianne'! So, come on the UK! Join the adventure and you will not regret it! At the end, it is just money!
Personally I can't wait for the Euro to land on the British shores. I am tired of the old spiteful arrogance that dominates the relations with our European brethren. A new pan-European currency is another welcomed chapter in building a peaceful, prosperous and secure continent.
For tourists and other travellers there seems a point to a common currency, and no doubt those involved in handling currency conversion will soon find alternative employment. As to prices I doubt it will make much difference even here in the UK as the price of almost everything changes from region to region.
The adoption of a common currency would affect much more than the notes and coins used. Our adventure into Europe started with too little information being provided by Ted Heath and other politicians in the 1970s and what we need is a full and honest provision of facts - especially on taxation and other financial issues. In particular I would like to know if and how the UK will be expected to contribute to the rising costs of social security costs in parts of Europe where it is expected that social security cost will soon swallow an unsustainable proportion of the GDP of some countries.
The sooner we have one global currency the better. Money in all its forms is a matter of trust and pretence. You don¿t actually have 10 pounds sterling, you have an IOU from the bank. What form our currency actually takes makes no difference.
What does matter is that we stop the currency speculators from operating? The fact that a handful of people have the ability to bet against a country's currency and ruin it has to be stopped. Also, a global currency would be the first step in highlighting and perhaps resolving the lack of financial parity in the marketplace around the world. A day's work is a day's work wherever you are in the world, so why should there be such a big difference between payments? A global currency would highlight this shameful act, and create a small first step towards resolution.
As a city trader you can be sure the financial markets are also preparing for the Euro and as we speak will be busy buying US Dollars, Swiss Francs and Sterling, whilst "shorting" the Euro to make great profits out of this ill conceived, incompetently run currency. Lets ignore the fact that political elites have inflicted this social experiment on their nations without the slightest degree of democratic accountability.
Mark USA, what you do not understand is that the beauty of Europe stands in her multi-language, multi-cultural and multi-ethnical combination. The Greeks will never give up their language as it is part of their heritage, the Germans as well, the Italians as well, as will the other countries. A common language is already unofficially English. The actual mixture and sometimes creative conflict of the cultures is actually an asset. Now the common currency, coins and banknotes, do not really affect the essence of different national identities, or way of lives. But it rather links them. Besides although I'm no economist, the positive impact on the European market and the citizens sounds solid enough to me.
Everyone having the same money will not solve the problems that the EU was created to rectify. Only a common culture can create that kind of unity..
I do not want the Euro. The English pound is a strong currency, what is the Euro worth on the world market? Let Europe do what is wants to do and let England continue to enjoy good exchange rates when holidaying overseas.
What is needed now is a European cheque clearing system. As I understand it, if one writes a euro cheque in Spain drawing on a French bank account, you will incur bank charges above that usual in France. Also if you want a euro account, open one in the euro zone. Its a lot cheaper than the Brit banks offerings.
The common currency is just one part of economic union; the whole is a common economic policy for the entire EU. It'll mean the same interest rates, cuts in public spending, pooling of national gold and currency reserves and eventually a common policy on taxation. All this imposed upon us not by our elected representatives but by a body that is undemocratic, secretive and unaccountable. This is not my personal opinion but the findings of an independent report carried out at the request of the EU Commission in 1999.
The euro is a great idea - so long as we are not in it! The UK is better off BECAUSE we have maintained our economic sovereignty and can therefore make our own decisions as well as apply corrections and reforms when we need to. If we join the euro that simply will not be possible. The idea that 'pooling sovereignty' will lead to higher prosperity is the great lie at the heart of the euro debate and it is up to us all to expose that myth as well as our responsibility as good citizens to oppose the euro tooth and nail.
Europe is taking a big gamble and I am not sure she's up to the challenge. What makes the US a world power is its utter ruthlessness whereas Europe is more concerned with issues like the environment and world peace. Admirable and very brave this may be but it's not what is required in today's cynical times.
I find it difficult to understand the attitude that the euro, in some way, makes us "less British". The Irish have accepted the euro as their currency but does it make them less Irish? I don't think so. In Wales, the strength of the pound against the euro has caused massive unemployment in various industries. We need to embrace the euro, for it may bring good news to areas like South Wales that are so desperately in need of it.
I'm ready for the euro as soon as the UK government sees fit to bring it in! I don't care what the currency's called as long as I have enough of it for my needs. In any case, I'm forced to use foreign currency every day of my life. The ten pound note in my pocket says "Bank of England" on it yet I live in Wales ... The euro - bring it on!
The euro is an irrelevance, what counts is that our country maintains its own destiny. The people of the UK do not want the euro so why does the debate continue?
I've had to change from Dutch guilders to pounds, back to guilders and now to dollars.
In my experience, it is very easy to get used to a new currency. The biggest problem is figuring out which coin is worth how much automatically.
I think the euro is a great development. I'm not an economist, but I think over 300 million people using a currency in their daily lives should give some measure of stability.
I also hope the remaining EU countries will join in soon, not in the least because I speak English much better than French or German.
You've hit the nail on the head, David from Ireland. There has been no proper intelligent debate in England. Our current sorry crop of so-called politicians do not have the ability to open this subject up to proper debate. All we get is a series of scare stories from various vested interests.
Well it won't matter too much as I won't have much money after Christmas anyway and it will be all over in a month or less. As for national identity, well we get to keep our harp on the back of the coins, the Dutch keep their queen's head, the Germans their menacing looking eagle and so on. In a couple of months it will all be forgotten, the hype won't matter and we will be better for it.
I see the euro as a currency of the future. I am just preparing myself for the euro, but it seems that I'm learning fast. No need to rebel against it when the decision has already been made in my country.
I'm visiting my friend in Berlin for New Year's Eve so I'll witness the changeover. I imagine it will be a little confusing at first receiving change in a different currency but I'm sure legendary German efficiency will save the day.
I am looking forward to the introduction of the euro as a tangible currency. I also look forward to spending my euro in Britain in the many shops and tourist attractions who have indicated that they will take it regardless of the "debate" (If that's what you call it) currently taking place in the UK!
I'm proudly English, but my national identity is based on more than the currency we use.
My company, which trades extensively in Europe, will be disadvantaged by not being in the Euro Zone. The sooner we can get our currency weakened by around 15%, so that we can join at the right rate, the better!
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