International Corner

A euro update

Six months have passed since Europe's currency changed completely. It appears most European Union (EU) residents would say the changeover was a success.

Euro cash transactions began Jan. 1 in 12 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain). At that point, the only new thing about the euro was the currency itself—many European companies that belong to the Economic and Monetary Union had been making electronic transactions and writing checks in euros since Jan. 1, 1999.

"Our price list, invoices and internal accounting systems already were in euros since the beginning of 2001," states Pierre Blondeau, sales and marketing director of Carrieres des Lacs Group, St. Thibault des Vignes, France.

The overall currency changeover went better than expected. A few weeks before Jan. 1, military troops helped move 50 billion euro coins and 14.5 billion bank notes across the 12 participating countries. (For more information about criteria for country participation, see "The euro: A step toward European unity," May 1999 issue, page 18.) And for the new currency to begin circulating on time, pay telephones, ticket machines, parking meters, motorway toll booths and automatic-teller machines were converted to the new currency during the early morning hours of Jan. 1.