World News from World Newspapers

About Us Archives   Classroom Use  
World News from World Newspapers
Africa
Americas
Asia
Europe
Middle East
World Newspapers World Maps
World Newspapers
World Maps

News from Latin America and Canada African News Middle Eastern News European News Asian News Click an area of the map for world news.
Africa
Americas
Asia
Europe
Middle East






:











From the January 2002 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 49, No. 1)

The European Union

Counting Continentally


Denis Fitzgerald

The rollout of the euro currency on Jan. 1 is the European Union’s (EU) most ambitious experiment in unity and is reported to be the world’s largest-ever money-changing operation. The new notes and coins, called euro and cent, respectively, will be used in 12 of the 15 EU member countries (the eurozone) by almost 300 million citizens.

The euro’s turbulent ride on currency markets since it began trading in 1999 leaves EU officials hoping its physical launch will run more smoothly. However, concerns about preparedness, forgery, and price gouging, along with a general sense of anxiety, abound.

Assessing Ireland’s readiness, the Irish Independent noted that “Dublin taxi meters, for example, will not be changed in time.” La Repubblica (Oct. 25) voiced Italians’ concerns: “Will postage stamps in lira still be valid, [and] when will lira prepaid phone cards expire?”

Elke Schulze, writing in Hamburg's Stern (Nov. 8), articulated the pervading uncertainty: “The euro stands, first and foremost, for price transparency between 12 European countries. If that’s so, then what does it mean? Will prices everywhere come under pressure, as they move toward uniformity? Will products get more expensive in Portugal and cheaper in Finland? Or is it the other way around?” Retailers, expected to accept euros on Jan. 1, are especially worried about forgery. Radio Free Europe (Sept. 13) said, “Forgers are already reported to be hard at work printing fake euros on sophisticated laser scanners and color printers.”

Although the eurozone is not one country, it will be for monetary purposes. The Irish Times (Oct. 23) opined that “[t]he euro’s weakness...reflects the fundamental uncertainties of creating a single currency in what is not one single political area. The [European Central Bank] controls interest rates...but each individual member state has its own government that controls most other aspects of economic policy. A peril to Spain’s economy, Manuel Lloris wrote in El País (Nov. 2), is that in the event of a recession, “we cannot have... recourse to devalution.”

“As an exercise in voluntary transfer of power, it remains almost unprecedented,” wrote John Ross in Athen's Kathimerini. Ross also lamented the demise of the Greek drachma, described as the world’s oldest currency.

A dual circulation period is in place until the end of February, but thereafter only euro currency will be accepted in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, and Finland. Not participating in the common currency at this stage are Britain, Sweden, and Denmark. An EU-funded advertising campaign launched in September has since expanded to all EU accession countries, as well as Kosovo and Montenegro. The German mark is the official currency there, and they will also change over to the euro.

The Basque separatist terrorist group ETA has offered an (ominous) early welcome to the euro: London’s Guardian reported in September that the ETA is requesting extortion money in euros rather than pesetas—a symbol of the Spanish state that they so despise.

While long-term concerns remain, the initial transition is the immediate worry: “Admittedly, since the painless passage of Y2K one must be wary of apocalyptic predictions,” wrote Gerard Dupuy in Libération (Oct. 5). “But the Y2K test concerned only technicians who acted within their professional framework. This time, we will deal with a massive test of intelligence to be passed by tens of million of amateurs.”


 
Daily News War on Terrorism


International News and International Freedom of the Press




  Back

Home About Us Privacy Notice Jobs