Quick, how many Euros can a U.S. dollar buy? Or how many dollars for a Euro?* These questions assume you know that Jan. 1 is more than just New Year's Day: It is Euro D-Day.
The new all-European (well, almost) denomination will be in circulation. Euro coins and Euro notes will be released, and all official transactions will be in Euros. Not only that, you can start saying good-bye to national currency in all Euro countries, which include 12 of the 15 European Union countries (Britain, Denmark, and Sweden have decided to stick to their own coins). Three hundred million Europeans will now speak a common currency -- Euro.
And that means of course that countries doing business in Euro countries, or anyone traveling in Euro countries needs to get used to different numbers and transactions, not to mention entirely new accounting systems in some cases, as well as learning to relate to customers and reps differently.
You'll have a short grace period, though. A dual circulation period will be allowed until Feb. 28 at the latest, at which time all -- and we do mean all -- other national currency will be withdrawn and all -- yes, Virginia, all -- transactions will be in Euros.
No more zillions of little Liras in the bottom of a pack. Or mixing up a Franc with a Mark. Or jingling around with different change in your hand when you cross borders. That'll be the stuff of history books.
But, nostalgia aside, SNEWS would like to clue you in to a couple of great web sites and resources to further your Euro education. Or to entertain you if you happen to get bored over the holidays:
- The web site of the European Union is a wealth of information in all things European, but especially for the Euro change (http://Europe.eu.int). Much of it is done in five languages, but you'll find most everything at least in English. Just click on the little purple circle for English when you have a choice. Click on "The European Union On-Line" in the language of your choice to get started.
- Once you're there, click on News, then pick "The Euro" in the box. (If you want to go directly to the Euro area, start on http://europa.eu.int/euro/html/home5.html?lang=5.) That opens the floodgates of resources, some of which include brochures you can print out.
- Pick something in the "Euro Essentials" area, which includes a look at the Euro timeline, do some quick conversions, and even look at the currency. Did you know that every country's Euros will look the same on the front (showing numerical value and a map of Europe) but that the other side will vary with the country? The country has chosen its national images to grace the back. But you can spend any Euro in any country. Doesn't matter if the ones in your hand have the Eiffel Tour on the back, but you're trying to get admission to Mad Ludwig's castle.
- Another superb section is the one called "How To Prepare," with different areas for different sectors, including retailers, companies from other countries doing business in Europe, and even civilian travelers.
- There, you can select the section for "Non-EU countries" and you'll find several brochures. One of note: "Paper 26 - The implications of the Introduction of the Euro to non-EU Countries," available in English. The site says it is "An assessment of the economic impact on non-EU countries of the introduction of the euro. It deals with a range of issues from trade invoicing in euro and the synchronizing of business cycles to the overall affect on international trade relations with the euro area." Who could ask for anything more?
- Choose the section called "Enterprises," and you'll get other downloadable brochures, for example, "EMU (Economic Monetary Union) and the Single Currency: How Enterprises Could Approach the Changeover." The site says: "This European Commission document outlines the major technical and strategic challenges entreprises face in the changeover to a single currency. It pays specific attention to implementing the Madrid changeover scenario and is equally applicable to those companies in "pre-in" countries as they prepare for the changeover to the euro."
- Select the area for "Citizens and Consumers" if all you do is travel in those countries for fun. There you can find a brochure called "Europe is changing its currencies" that summarizes all the basics. You'll also find an area of "useful links."
- Need some currency conversion education? Go to www.oanda.com for all your needs.
Take some time to surf around the EU site and follow the links, as well as to print out some of the brochures, perhaps even to pin on a company bulletin board.
As the conversion continues into the New Year, we'd like to hear from you if you have any Euro horror or happiness stories.
The Euro is here.
* On Dec. 17, 2001, 1 US Dollar = 1.10854 Euro, and 1 Euro = 0.90222 US Dollar