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EDITIONS
Monday, 17 December, 2001, 13:27 GMT
The case for joining the euro
By Britain in Europe's Simon Buckby

In only a few days time, 300 million people in 12 European countries will use a brand new currency - the euro.

This changeover will be the largest logistical operation in peacetime European history.

Anti-Europeans might try to keep Britain out of the euro, but they can't keep the euro out of Britain

This momentous event for Europe has profound implications for Britain too.

Some people in the eurozone might find it difficult to adjust to the change - and you can be sure that anti-Europeans in this country will try to make every glitch sound like a terminal disaster.

But these are the same people who have told us that the euro would never happen - they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

British people make 40 million trips to the euro-zone every year.

Next year, we will all have to get used to using euros.

Spend your change

Old francs, pesetas, drachma and the rest that people have saved from our last holiday will be worthless by the end of June next year.

Not only will Brits use the euro on holiday, but we will be able to spend it in Britain too.

Many of Britain's largest retailers have said that they will be able to accept euros over the counter.

Firms like Marks & Spencer, Virgin, Debenhams will accept the new currency.

Even firms run by business-people who back the anti-European 'No' campaign - such as Dixons and JD Wetherspoon - have said that they will be ready to accept euros.

Anti-Europeans might try to keep Britain out of the euro, but they can't keep the euro out of Britain.

Big spenders

It's no surprise that so many British firms will use the euro.

After all, 13 million visitors from the euro-zone come to Britain every year spending 4 billion - and next year their pockets will be full of euros.

Those retailers, hotels, and tourist attractions that can take euros will have a lead over those that cannot.

The question for Britain is how should we react to this change.

Before the creation of the euro, Britain was on an equal footing with our fourteen European partners.

But now they have taken one step ahead.

Top priority

The status quo is no longer an option: we must weigh up the choice between enhancing our prosperity by co-operating with our European partners or long-term economic decline.

Britain is a trading nation. And in our web of trading alliances, nowhere is more important than the European Union.

The EU takes well over half of our trade. Up to 3.5 million British jobs depend on that trade.

European co-operation has been the foundation of Britain's prosperity and influence for the past 30 years.

To shut the door on the euro would be to give up on a course that has yielded so much for so many over the past three decades.

The aftermath of the tragic attacks in America has shown that in the modern world, no country, not even a giant like the US let alone Britain, can afford to go it alone.

We need to wake up to the euro, or we could be sleepwalking into trouble.

The time to make up our minds is fast approaching.


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