28 June 2017

You & the Euro

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If you've planned a holiday to Europe with your family this Summer you'll probably be paying for your meals and entertainment in Euros, Europe's new single currency. The Euro became legal tender on 1st January 1999 in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Greece joined on 1st January 2001. For the time being, Britain, Sweden and Denmark have opted out of the European common currency. Since 1st January this year, all old currencies have been phased out and replaced by the Euro.

At the beginning of this year, more than 14 billion euro bank notes and 50 billion euro coins replaced almost as many national currency bank notes and coins. Never before has an operation of this scale taken place - it affected 300 million people and took 10 years of preparation.

Although some are sceptical about this huge change and abolition of traditional money in European countries, there are some real pluses to having a single currency in Europe:

1) Many prices have been pushed down as retailers compete to match the lowest price - but beware of some retailers who have in fact used the Euro as a chance to increase prices.

2) Transaction costs are cheaper. You will be able to use the same currency throughout your holiday and will incur no exchange charges. For example, when visiting a museum in France you can pay the entrance fee from euro coins leftover from your stay in Spain, or when eating out in Italy, you can use euro notes which you withdrew from a bank in Portugal. This will save you both time and money.

3) Also, when shopping in Europe all prices will be given in euros making it easier to compare prices and help you make the right choice. No longer will you have to struggle to convert four million Italian lire!

4) This system should make it easier to work out exactly how much your money is worth. Using a simple decimal system will make it easier to calculate how much you have paid and how much change to expect. As the time of writing the euro is worth 63p.

5) You don't need to worry about using up handfuls of small change just as you are about to enter another country as the euro coins can probably still be used over the border.

There are seven different notes and eight coins which have replaced the notes and coins of the participating countries. The denominations for the notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro. They are all exactly the same throughout the euro area and they depict architectural styles in the history of Europe; windows and bridges bringing people together. The denominations for the coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 and 2 euro. One side of the coin is universal and the reverse side reflects the nationality. All coins, whatever the national face are accepted in all euro area countries.

Before travelling it is worthwhile taking time to study the new currency to familiarise yourself with it. Euros can be obtained from all UK banks and building societies, bureaux de change and many travel agents. It will still be necessary to shop around until you find the best conversion rates and the lowest commissions.

Although your old currencies from each of the twelve countries can no longer be used as payment for goods, you can still exchange the old national bank notes against the euro free of charge. This can be done at the national central banks in the twelve countries listed above at least until the end of this year, in most countries the redemption periods are longer or indefinite.

On the high street in the UK, several major retailers have decided to accept euros as payment for goods. WH Smith, Dixons and Virgin will accept the single European currency nationwide, whilst Body Shop, Boots and Marks and Spencer will accept the currency in some of the larger stores.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
For further information
about the euro, visit the following websites:
www.euro.ecb.int
www.euro-info.org.uk
www.euro.gov.uk
www.euro-institut.org
or call the euro helpline on 08456 010199


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