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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 14:15 GMT
Hain: Poll suggests attitude change
Euro graphic
The poll showed a small majority supported euro entry
Europe Minister Peter Hain has said the results of a poll published by BBC Wales suggesting the majority of people in Wales supported signing up to the euro, demonstrates a shift in attitude now that the currency was in common use.

An NOP poll revealed a small majority in favour of Britain signing up to the euro.

For full analysis of poll results click here.

Of those questioned 41% of those questioned wanted Britain to sign up to the euro, while 40% were opposed to entry.

It showed a marked move away from UK-wide polls which have indicated a majority against joining up.

NOP questioned 750 people throughout Wales in what is the biggest survey of Welsh opinion on the single currency so far.

Mr Hain, the MP for Neath, said after the introduction of the common currency on 1 January, the euro had ceased to be "an item of myth, prejudice and propaganda".

Europe Minister Peter Hain
Europe Minister Peter Hain: Britain must not be left behind

"Many who used to fear the euro now have it in their hands and are spending it and I feel that reflects the change in attitudes," he said.

However, he said the government was still right to work carefully and cautiously in its dealing with the introduction of the European currency.

"The government is right to make sure that we do not repeat the mistake of 12 years ago when the Conservatives rushed us into the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and did it in a way which proved disastrous and we had to pull out," said Mr Hain. P> "We must not get left behind. It is very important as the euro marches on that we march with it."

The people polled also felt that manufacturing industry would gain, which is of particular concern in Wales.

However, business in Wales is split about the merits of entering the currency.

Shoppers in Cardiff
Business would benefit from Britain going into the currency

Chief Executive of Allied Steel and Wire (ASW) Graham McKenzie said his company which exports much of its production to the eurozone, had experienced "tremendous problems" through not being part of the currency.

Mr McKenzie said that a great deal of business in both north and south Wales was linked to the eurozone as subcontractors or suppliers to ASW.

But Michael Plaut, managing director of Northmace Ltd and chair of the anti-euro group Business for Sterling Cymru, said there was no economic ground for entry into the union, and the entire argument was a political one.

Nearly 70% of people polled expected to use the single currency - on holidays and business trips over the next year.

Of those there was a large majority - 22% - in favour of British entry.

BBC Wales's Guto Thomas
"The majority may be slim"
BBC Wales's Political Editor David Williams
"Twelve countries have reached there destination on the journey to a single currency"
See also:

08 Jan 02 | Business
Euro used for 75% of payments
12 Jan 02 | Scotland
Scots opposition to euro 'cooling'
11 Jan 02 | Europe
Sceptics warm to the euro
09 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Euro peer pressure mounts on Blair
08 Jan 02 | Business
Ireland's smooth changeover
02 Jan 02 | Wales
Traders primed for euros
14 Jan 02 | Wales
Euro poll: Full figures
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