On Jan. 1, 2002, the world will witness the largest money-changing operation in its history. An event of this magnitude cannot but cause some anxiety. If everything goes well, on Jan. 1, almost 300 million people in the 12 participating countries will wake up to find their bank accounts have been automatically converted into euros. Millions of businesses will need to convert their prices and overhaul their computer accounting systems.
Commentators in the eurozone have met the impending change with worry. Some are concerned about the opportunities the unfamiliar notes will provide to forgers. Others have worried about price-gouging as shoppers try to adjust to the new system. But European commentators have also greeted the introduction of a common European currency with humor and hope that the change will help further unite the people who live within the European Union.
In a Worldpress.org special report, we look at how newspapers around the world, but especially within the countries adopting the euro, are greeting the introduction of the new monetary order.
PARIS Le Monde (liberal), Oct. 30: Meant to strengthen Europeans' sense of belonging to a common community, the euro constitutes realization of the dreams of founding fathers who, shortly after the World War II, saw in the unification of Europe as the only way to avoid new conflicts.
FRANKFURT Franfurter Allegemeine Zeitung (conservative) June 6: And just as the enthusiasm of Europe's founding fathers has long been swamped by the laborious and protracted juggling of European interests and the daily grind of the Brussels bureaucracy, the new currency has stopped inspiring excitement. Most Germans will continue to ask why a crucial element of German postwar identitythe deutsche markhas to disappear now.
MADRID El Mundo (centrist) Sept. 4: We project on to the euro…a vague anguish that we feel toward globalization: the fear of uniformity that cancels our individual diversity. Today a process that evokes the great transformation that took place in Greece in 500 B.C., with the onslaught of the polis, the city-state, and the disappearance of the old tribal and family communities, is being achieved. To that crisis, which was purely progressive, Greek civilizationas Beniamino Andreatta pointed outresponded with tragedy, and simultaneously mournful and enlightening stories of Oedipus and Antigone.
ATHENS Kathimerini (conservative) Oct. 17: Greece's adoption of the physical euro will have major implications for a country that has traditionally relied more heavily on cash transactions than has most of Europe….which implies that the actual physical changeover will have at least as much impact in Greece as elsewhere. And an awkward exchange parity (340.75 drachmas to the euro) will not exactly set people's minds to rest as they pore over conversion charts to see what a chunk of feta will cost under the new regime.
CORK Irish Examiner (centrist), Oct. 1: Today marks the first day of the last quarter leading up to euro day. In preparation for that day much will change. Prices will be adjusted. Inevitably, some will try and capitalise on the opportunity to make more profit. Greater vigilance will be required in the coming months if the gougers are not to succeed.
LONDON The Guardian (liberal), Sept. 5: The economic argument that most directly touches people's livesand is perhaps therefore the most importantis about prices. The electorate do not believe that merely comparing prices in the same currency will provide them with a better deal, but they do think that joining the euro would mean more competition. And more competition will bring lower prices and higher living standards. In this, they are quite right.