BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK

Should Europe be afraid of Y2K?

"Our advice is, don't travel in the few days leading up to the end of the year and for the period of January, and we'll see what happens..."
Robin Guenier

"Some major economies in Europe started late anyway and in the Netherlands we worked on it on a national level for two-and-a-half years... but still we have the feeling we are not completely ready... so what about economies starting one to one-and-a-half years later?"
Peter Haegedoorn

Click here to listen to both sides of the debate
Listen to our debate hosted by Mark Reid. Do you agree with the views of our contributors?

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say ¦ Listen to the debate

The Vote:
Should Europe be afraid of Y2K?
Yes No

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say ¦ Listen to the debate

The Background:

Gloom, doom and chaos -- and don't travel if you can avoid it for five weeks around the millennium.

Talking Point - Europewide
That was the graphic warning delivered to millions of British newspaper-readers by the independent watchdog on the millennium bug, Taskforce 2000.

Critics accuse Taskforce of being alarmist. What does Europe think?

Joining Mark Reid for this week's Europewide debate are Peter Hagaedoorn of Platform 2000 in the Hague which is advising the Dutch government on Y2K, and just outside London, Robin Guenier of Taskforce 2000, the man who delivered that warning.

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say ¦ Listen to the debate

Your Reaction:

Yes! They should be afraid because Europe has a very good developed economy and Y2K may cause an economic disaster if proper caution is not taken. So all the people should think of an alternative way to get around this problem temporarily.
Charles Denis, USA

As a Y2K manager for a US company over the past one and a half years I have had to do extensive research on companies in Europe and have found that although many are starting to realise the impact of Y2K, many have started late and may not entirely meet compliancy by its inevitable deadline. I don't think that a total disaster is in store for Europe, but certainly many small businesses will be severely impacted as well as causing inconvenience in larger companies. At this point the risk should be repeatedly evaluated to ensure efforts continue on track.
Judy, Rochester NY USA

Yes Europe should be afraid, ask any computer programmer or systems analyst.
Alain Nusshola, Lyon, France

The people that are petrified of Y2K are people like Robin Guenier who have made a career out of creating a mountain out of a molehill. There are thousands of Y2K consultants who will have to get real jobs once the gravy train they have cleverly constructed comes to a halt on January 1. (It will almost certainly be the only thing that will come to a stop). Look back over the dire predictions of the Y2K con artists and every single "critical" date has been a non-event.

Of course the Y2K industry has it both ways. Although the truth might be that the problem was nowhere near as critical as they wanted people to believe, they will be able to say on January 2 that it was only through their remarkable foresight and hard work that nothing happened. Y2K is a classic Emperor's new clothes scenario. Saying there will be no problem within a business that has wasted thousands of pounds in preparing for this non-problem is just not acceptable.

I just don't understand the gullibility of the media and government in swallowing the Y2K line for so long. How about some brave journalist saying now what a con it is? The media will be full of Y2K overreaction stories written in early 2000. Have the guts to speak the truth now!
Nick Grealy, UK

Germany has only just woken up to the 'Millennium Bug'. In fact, there wasn't a vocabulary for the term for quite some time. Now some who are into PCs and a few techies call it the "Jahr 2000 Problem". Many seemingly intelligent friends of mine have asked me where I am flying to for the millennium. When I told them that I will stay at home, they asked me 'why'? Many are surprised that a number of Western European airlines aren't flying around the said date.

On the first weekend in April this year, the streets of Hamburg were deserted because many couples were trying to make a "Millennium Baby". I can imagine that the technology in many of the hospitals will break down in Germany, plus the rest of the country will be in chaos, since no one has really thought about the 'bug' until this year.
Ursula Smartt, GB

Northern Europe and the United States have prepared and invested well to minimize any disruption. Southern Europe and other parts of the World have not, and I'm afraid, will learn at their expense that the Y2K worries were not just some Anglo-Saxon hype or media frenzy. Ironically, those same countries will go crying to the EU in Brussels for extra financial aid to help them and their companies pick up the pieces.
Mark Parish, USA

I'm very concerned about this, as those in charge in my country seem to be doing nothing to be prepared for this unusual event.
Boris Loeoffe, Russia

Only the very foolish have anything to fear. If you have taken care to get all your own equipment ready for Y2K then just stay in over New Year and wait for all the hype to blow over.
Mark Verth, UK

All this hype about Y2K has certainly given the Doomsday crowd a lot to shout about. I think Y2K has been totally overhyped. Most of the critical systems have been looked after at this stage. Having said this I reckon I won't chance flying in and around the New Year.....just in case!
Matt, Ireland

Coming late in the day to Y2K, many of us are feeling the pressure. I am working in computers and know very well the problems. Many of us are thinking, 'please not to be listening to the doomsayers' but yet we are no more safe than anyone else. We can't be complacent, and yet we are, no?
Harvven Flemming, Netherlands

I'm not too worried personally (and I work in the IT industry). I can forsee a number of companies not being ready, the result of which will be that some of them will collapse. This is not such a bad thing, as these would be the same companies that are inefficient and slow to adapt to change. As for airlines and banks, I would be very surprised if they hadn't taken the matter very seriously and have prepared for it.
Rob S, UK

This millennium firework is going to prove a very damp squid. There has been a lot of build-up, but the show is going to be a non-event.
John Atkins, Singapore

In truth nobody can be sure what will happen at 00.00 on 1st January 2000. Personally I believe that we are worrying about nothing but us in Scotland won't be sober enough until about the 4th January to notice whether the Y2K bug has bitten.
Kev, Scotland

One may hope that, for example, airline companies and banks will have taken suitable measures to protect their investment and their personnel (and of course the interests of their passengers and clients, who are their bread and butter). But what of minor airports, small companies, inadequately funded public-sector institutions, local governments? It would be foolish to ignore the warnings given.
Peter, Netherlands

Talk about a media feeding frenzy! There is so much hype over the Y2K issue that one wonders if it is the media that is Y2K compatible!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

There's no need to be 'afraid', but there's every need to be aware. I have heard many people in Europe say that the Y2K problem is an American issue. This is clearly stupid and so while I again say there's no need to be 'afraid', there's every need to be concerned and prepared.
Richard Hodges, Wales, UK

Europe - a sophisticated super-continent, built on different sorts of technological gadgets should be in a sober mood by now! But who is safe, when sky falls?
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say ¦ Listen to the debate

Have Your Say:

Votes so far:


Yes: 53% No: 47%

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Live Talking Points

Should Europe be afraid of Y2K?

Is the new European Commission fit to hold office?

Should Europeans be told how long to work?

Has the earthquake made EU membership for Turkey more likely?

Can the Serb opposition topple Milosevic?

Is Boris Yeltsin the trouble with Russia?

Should Europe shut down in August?

Are player demands ruining soccer?

Should German be one of the EU's working languages?

Should the European Union try to solve the Northern Ireland question?

Should there be quotas for women at work?

Should Europe be afraid of genetically modified foods?

Should there be an independent Kosovo?

Should Europe bother electing a parliament?

Is the Euro fatally flawed?

Are referendums democratic?

Should men be forced by law to do half the housework?