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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
UK euro decision: EU reaction
Gordon Brown
Few outside the UK have heard of Mr Brown's 'five tests'
BBC correspondents around Europe report on the reaction to UK Chancellor Gordon Brown's statement on entry to the single currency


Caroline Wyatt
In France

There's been little official reaction in Paris to Gordon Brown's speech: today is a French public holiday, which means that most officials here are enjoying a long weekend in the sunshine.

But for those who've stayed in the capital, enjoying a coffee or some wine at one of the many cafes by the riverside, there's some sadness that Britain has again ruled itself out of the euro.

The majority believe Britain should join as soon as possible - for its own sake as well as that of the rest of Europe.

"It would be so much better for travellers if we all had the euro, as I go to London quite often," says Frank, 45, from Paris. "And Britain should be a proper part of Europe."

Most agree, though some are sceptical about whether Britain really wants to be part of Europe.

Alain, a 50-year old doctor, comments: "I wonder sometimes whose side the British are on - Europe's or America's. I'd like Britain to join the euro, but the British will have to decide first which is more important to them."

Ricard, a French businessman, says he believes Britain may be closer to the US politically but that British entry into the euro would be good for Europe as a whole, and would not harm the British economy.

While many French admit they still think first in French francs before translating prices into euros, most are happy with the currency and believe Europe and Britain would benefit from British membership.

Only one person disagreed - Sybille, a 25-year old Parisian student. She said that by siding with America on Iraq, Britain had ruled itself out of Europe, and did not deserve to participate in the single currency.


Ray Furlong
In Germany

Tony Blair sounds a little bit like Radio Yerevan, when he says he favours the Euro 'in principle' but that in practice it depends on the Five Tests, said Die Welt am Sonntag.

"Whether joining the Euro will bring higher growth, stability and continuous growth in employment - as Chancellor Brown's Fifth Test puts it - can only be a matter for speculation," the paper added.

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung almost the only question worth asking was what it meant for German investors.

"For the German investor it means that, for now, there is another alternative to the big three world currencies: the dollar, the yen, and the Euro. "Anyone wanting to spread their risk across more currencies will welcome the decision to keep the pound," it said.


Patrick Bartlett
In Brussels

If you live in the eurozone, unless you're an economist or a businessman, you have probably never heard of Gordon Brown's five tests. Most people do know, though, that Britain can't make up its mind about the euro.

While consumers complain about Euro price rises, and many businesses grumble they have seen few of the promised benefits, the vast majority of the eurozone's 300 million citizens seem to think Britain would be a welcome addition.

In the business community, British membership is seen as giving new impetus to economic reform. Britain, they reason, would have more success in pushing its free market agenda if it was arguing from inside the club.

One reason the Treasury's five tests have had little coverage in the media here, is that most commentators see them as politically driven. Few inside the Euro pretend it's a purely economic project, and the UK Government's insistence on economic tests is seen as little more than a ruse to buy time.

The European Central Bank President, Wim Duisenberg, put it thus: "I know why (Britain should join). I just don't know when".

Speaking after the Bank cut eurozone interest rates to a historic low last week, Mr Duisenberg insisted Britain would benefit from Euro membership. Few in the eurozone's political and business establishment would disagree with that.


Suzanne Bush
In Rome

While Italians have accepted their new currency, and the loss of the lira, it has been less easy to accept the huge rise in prices that came with it.

They welcome the newfound freedom to travel without changing money, but mention the euro, and you will instantly be told that prices have doubled, yet wages have not.

For this reason, Britain's reluctance to join doesn't surprise people in Rome.

However, as part of a nation so integrated in Europe itself, most feel it is only right that Britain gives up its beloved pound and finally moves in from the cold.

One young Italian, Filippo Reale, feels Britons are still too isolated.

He says the UK is too attached its past and traditions, as well as to the pound.

"We've accepted the change, and so should Britain."

For Anna Di Rienzo, there should be no dilemma.

She says that if Britain truly wants to be part of the European Community, it should have the same currency.

"But I don't understand many things about Britain. The decimal system, driving on the wrong side of the road, the need to always be different."


Danny Wood
In Madrid

Britain's relationship with the rest of Europe is always a subject of curiosity for Spaniards.

The British are appreciated for being different politically and culturally, a counterbalance to the French and Germans.

For that reason, many Spaniards on the street are surprisingly philosophical about the prospect of Britain joining Europe's currency.

Spaniards look forward to the prospect of one of Europe's most powerful nations becoming more closely involved in affairs on the continent by joining the euro.

The Spanish are big fans of the European project in all its forms.

Many link their relationship with the EU to democratic and civic deals and the marked improvements in their economy over the last two decades.

But few feel passionately enough about the issue of the single currency to hold a grudge if Britain chooses not to join.

"If they want to keep the pound that's fine by me too," says Iguacelle Mateus, a young woman who lives and works in Madrid.

Increasing numbers of Spaniards live, work and holiday in Britain. Thousands more would like to, but Britain is a very expensive destination.

Eating and drinking out in Britain is often twice as expensive as in Spain.

Many Spaniards would like the ease of a common currency, but also hope the end of the pound might make a holiday in Britain more affordable.

At the moment Spaniards have one ear half-cocked towards Gordon Brown. The media here is showing considerable interest in what national broadsheet El Mundo calls 'the British Dilemma', with pages devoted to the pro-euro and anti-euro debate.

On the day of the British Chancellor's announcement, it quotes one euro sceptic proclaiming "God save the pound sterling".

Ramon Perez-Maura, assistant editor of national daily ABC, says those who follow economic affairs are "very interested", especially those anticipating the end of the pound creating a stronger euro.

Ramon Perez-Maura expects that interest and excitement to transfer to Spain's general public if Britain does decide to join.


James Helm
In Ireland

Across the Irish Sea, the British chancellor's pronouncements on the euro, and the accompanying debate within the UK on the single currency, have been headline news.

This morning's Irish Times played it straight, with a front-page headline: "Britain expected to say 'not yet' to the euro today". Unsurprisingly, there's been much analysis about what impact Britain's "not yet" stance will have here.

Stop anyone beneath their umbrellas on bustling Grafton Street in Dublin, and there's no real surprise at what Mr Brown is saying.

In this enthusiastically pro-European nation, Irish people know full well that the British have a pretty different take on Europe.

Many business people here though had hoped that the UK might take the plunge early and embrace the euro.

The UK is Ireland's main export market. Trading in a single currency would be a whole lot easier for many here.

Ask any of the thousands of Irish people catching a cheap flight to Britain every day to visit family, or who head into Northern Ireland on a regular basis, and many would also prefer to see the UK joining the euro club.

It would save them having to swap euros for sterling on each trip, and pay the resulting commission fee.




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