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Just for once, the e doesn’t stand for electronic. E-day is Euro Day: 1 January 2002, when the twelve countries of the European Union that have signed up to adopt the single currency (Britain not among them) change over to the Euro. Large-scale logistical problems are inevitable: the European Central Bank will have to distribute 16 billion Euro notes and 56 billion Euro coins — enough paper bills, it is claimed, to circle the equator 50 times and enough metal to replicate 35 Eiffel Towers. As there will be a changeover period of a month or two, retailers predict chaos as people pay for things in old currencies and receive change in the new, or try to pay in a mixture of old and new. The impending loss of national currencies is causing agonising problems for people who prefer to keep their money in the mattress rather than in the bank. It is particularly affecting criminal gangs, such as prostitution rings and drug smugglers in eastern Europe, who are having to shift large sums of illicit funds into other currencies, especially the American dollar. It is said that this is one of the main forces tending to distort exchange rates at the moment and keep the dollar high.

To prepare, businesses and banks can begin buying euro banknotes and coins in September but must sign contracts that prohibit circulating them to the public before E-Day.

International Herald Tribune, Jan. 2001

Prodi said his greatest fear is not that people will continue to flee from the euro, but rather that so many investors will jump back into the euro once E-Day passes with relative tranquillity.

Washington Post, May 2001

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Page created 30 Jun 2001