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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Island angles to trade in euros
Euro coins
The euro is now the currency in twelve countries
A campaign to promote north Wales as a "euro-friendly" zone is to be launched on Thursday as Wales takes part in the celebrations for Europe Day.

Anglesey County Council wants to boost the local economy by persuading firms to accept the European single currency from the estimated 3m ferry passengers who travel across the island to and from Holyhead each year.

We think that some businesses on Anglesey stand to gain if they are able to accept euro currency

Huw Griffiths, Anglesey County Council

The idea is something First Minister Rhodri Morgan, has been urging firms across Wales to do since the euro's introduction at the turn of the year.

Anglesey is one of the most economically deprived districts in Wales, with unemployment levels among the worst in the country.

It has improved little since the Milan Summit of 1985 at which EU leaders decided on 9 May as Europe Day across the continent.

The date marks the day in 1950 when France's Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, called for European countries to 'pool' together their coal and steel production in a bid to make it unthinkable they could go to war with each other.

A senior Welsh Labour MP is now calling on schools and colleges throughout the UK to join in the celebrations in support of Europe Day.

Severn Bridge
Severn Bridge tolls can be paid in euros

On Anglesey, local authority leaders hope the latest EU initiative will bring a fillip to the area's economy.

However, their campaign faces something of an uphill task.

With the exception of the Severn crossing, Chepstow Racecourse and a few pubs and restaurants, businesses in Wales have been slow to catch on to the earning potential of catering for customers with euros to spend.

But as Wales works to recover its tourist trade in the wake of last year's foot-and-mouth crisis, that could change with the arrival of the summer season.

Special window stickers for shops and other businesses on Anglesey are now available to show that they can accept Euro notes.

Pint of lager
Few pubs or restaurants will take in euros

"We are very much on the border with the Eurozone," said Huw Griffiths, Head of Economic Development at Anglesey County Council.

"Regardless of whether or not you agree with joining the single currency, we think that some businesses on Anglesey stand to gain if they are able to accept euro currency.

"Holyhead in particular is identified as an area that could benefit from this."

Mr Griffiths said that similar initiatives are already in place in Newry in Northern Ireland, and in some areas of Kent.

The MP for Clwyd South, Martyn Jones, hopes to promote the benefits of the EU to the next generation of consumers by encouraging pupils and students to celebrate Europe Day.

Business in north west Wales are encouraged to accept euros

The Early Day Motion he has tabled in the House of Commons, calling on his Parliamentary colleagues to celebrate Europe Day and the UK's membership of the EU, coincides with the launch of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's new Europe Day website.

The UK is an important member of the European Union and it widely accepted now that our future lies in playing our full part in all the institutions," he said.

"That is why I believe it is important that young people everywhere get involved in the celebrations on Europe Day on 9 May."

BBC Wales's Miles Fletcher
"With 3m people passing through, Anglesey is Wales's gateway to Euroland"
See also:

02 Jan 02 | Wales
Traders primed for euros
02 Jan 02 | Wales
Shoppers wise up to the euro
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