Monday, October 22, 2012

THE EU

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THE EUROPEAN UNION

Member States

15 democratic States - 65 million citizens - voluntarily joined by a political desire to present a united front to the great challenges of our age Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Ireland. UK a member for 0 years.

1 other countries are applying for membership Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most of these are expected to join by 007, some by 004.

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Objectives

• To promote European unity;

• To improve living and working conditions for citizens;

• To foster economic development, balanced trade and fair competition;

• To reduce economic disparities between regions;

• To help developing countries;

• To preserve peace and freedom � the EU was originally conceived as the Coal and Steel Community to prevent another world war (coal and steel were crucial to war preparation).

Resources

• Community legislation, applicable in the 15 Member States;

• The budget, financed by the Communitys own resources ( billion euros, £58bn, in 000);

• The administrative and technical staff employed by the Community institutions.

Subsidiarity principle

• A superior authority should only be involved when a goal can not be achieved more effectively at a lower level. of 7

Institutions and bodies

• The EU is now a major political force in many international fora and has a much stronger voice than any of its members, even the UK.

• 40 per cent of UK legislation originates from the EU process. (This rises to 80% for Environmental legislation). Regulations go straight to local authorities/agencies.

• Legislation is proposed by the Commission and sent to the Council and the European Parliament, both of which have to pass the legislation if it is to be enacted. The Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions will normally give their opinions to the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament before legislation is passed.

• Whilst there are 11 languages currently spoken in the EU, English has become the lingua franca.

• Bottom line, the EU works.

The European Commission

• The College of Commissioners is composed of 0 independent members, proposes Community legislation, monitors compliance with legislation and with the Treaties, and administers common policies. They have to agree to any amendments by the Council of Ministers or European Parliament.

• Romani Prodi, president; Neil Kinnock, vice-president, administrative reform; Chris Patten, external relations; Loyola de Palacio, transport & energy and 16 other Commissioners meet on a weekly basis.

They have real and well informed discussions.

• The College is very political, but not party political. The rest of the staff are similar to any other civil service.

• At present, 0 Commissioners are appointed by a common agreement of member states (

Commissioners for each of the 5 larger states and 1 Commissioner for each of the other states.

• Commission now invested by the European Parliament.

• 4 Directorates-General (Departments in UK speak). Economic and financial affairs; Enterprise; Competition; Employment & social affairs; Agriculture; Transport & energy; Environment; Research; Information; Fisheries; Internal market; Regional policies; Tax system and customs union; Education & culture; Health & consumer policies; Justice & internal affairs; External relations; Commercial policy; Development; Enlargement; Common service on external relations; Personnel & administration; Budget; and Financial Control.

• Grown from 5,000 staff/0,000 transactions in 180 to 8,000 staff & contractors/600,000 transactions today. Currently being re-organised by Neil Kinnock to reflect today’s needs. Up till now the organisation and its practices were based on the much smaller organisation. See

http//europa.eu.int/comm/governance/white_paper/index_en.htm for proposals to reform the EU.

• Corruption really only a minor issue and no more prevalent than in any other government. Institutional reform, held back by other priorities and vested interests, now being pushed through by Neil Kinnock.

Some reforms will require changes to the EU treaties and to Belgian employment law before they can be completed.

• Forward looking - DG Environment developed a 10 year vision, which is used to formulate future proposals for legislation. Use incentives, not just strictures.

• DTI view is the they want to promote 50% and resist the other 50%.

• See http//europa.eu.int for further information and links to all of the EU institutions.

The Council of Ministers (or Council of European Union)

• The Council, composed of 15 members (one minister from each government), takes decisions and adopts Community legislation. Its membership depends on the subject under consideration (it may be made up of the 15 Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Transport, Finance, etc.).

• The European Council is part of this and comprises The Heads of State and Government and their Foreign Ministers, together with the President of the European Commission. Its task is to boost the construction of Europe at the highest level, to resolve blockages, and to define the general guidelines for economic and political cooperation in Europe. It is the major organ for political impulse.

• Presidency rotates among the member states every six months (001/ Belgium, 00/1 Spain, 00/ Denmark).

• Simple majority required in very limited circumstances. of 7

• Qualified majority required for a wide range of subjects. 6 out of 87 votes required � Germany, France, Italy & UK 10 votes each; Spain 8 votes; Belgium, Greece, Netherlands & Portugal 5 votes each;Austria & Sweden 4 votes each; Denmark, Finland & Ireland votes each; and Luxembourg votes.

• Unanimity is required for sensitive subjects of a diplomatic, political or social nature.

• The Council must be unanimous in order to amend a Commission proposal.

• Legislation will only be adopted if also agreed to by the European Parliament.

• Council meetings are held in camera. Object is not to make enemies. Ministers make the political points, then the President and officials retire to a room and try to build consensus.

• COREPER is the permanent representatives committee. It is composed of the permanent

representatives of each member. Each delegation is led by an ambassador who takes part in the work of COREPER on matters of a political nature or a deputy for matters of a technical nature.

• COREPER prepares the Council decision.

• Proposed legislation is reviewed by Committees in the House of Commons and the House of Lords (their analysis is highly regarded). But with about 1,500 proposals each year, it is difficult for them to review all proposals in detail.

• UK Departments review all proposals in detail and provide detailed briefings to UK ministers, officials and MEPs (the UK briefings are reported to be the best in Europe). The UK position is coordinated by the Cabinet Office, who consider tactics to be everything. The UK office is known as UKREP and has 140 staff in Brussels. Their view is that the name of the game is building the broadest possibleconsensus.

• What a minister says in Brussels (usually very supportive), can be very different to what he/she says in the UK (often very negative).

• The Secretariat of The Council of Ministers has ,700 staff working in 10 Directorates General. Its Secretary General, also known as the High Representative, is Javier Solana.

• See also http//ue.eu.int

• The Council of Ministers (or Council of European Union) should not be confused with the Council of Europe, which is based in Strasbourg, and has 4 European countries as its members. See www.coe.int for further information.

The European Parliament

• The European Parliament, directly elected by universal suffrage, represents the peoples of the Community. It takes part in the lawmaking and budgetary processes and has limited, but increasing, powers of control. Most legislation has to be approved by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The EP is not responsible for the cost of its decisions.

• It has 66 MEPs, including 87 from the UK. They are all elected by proportional legislation.

• In the UK, they are elected on a regional basis. The MEPs for the South-East region are Nirj Deva (Con), James Elles (Con), Nigel Farage (UK Ind), Daniel Hannan (Con), Chris Huhne (LibDem), Caroline Lucas (Green), Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (LibDem), Roy Perry (Con), James Provan (Con), Peter Skinner (Lab) and Mark Watts (Lab). Full details of the UK MEPs can be found on www.europarl.org.uk.

• There are currently 8 “parties” in the European Parliament. They are Group of the European People’s Party (Conservatives - MEPs); Group of the European Socialist Party (Labour - 181); European Liberal Democrat and Reforms Party (5); Green Group/Free European Alliance (46); Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (4); Union for Europe of Nations (0); Technical Group of Independent Deputies (1); European Group for Democracies and Differences (16); plus 8 non-attached MEPs. The political groups do not have a constituency role.

• All work is organised through committees which report back to the EP for final discussion and voting.

• The politicians are surprisingly accessible, open to discussion, seeking information. In meetings, and in the corridors of the Parliament, narrow nationalism and intolerance are not evident. The MEP’s view is that they can get on with the work and that they do genuinely make a difference. MEPs must master their brief and know their colleagues if they are to be successful.

• The EP’s responsibilities and powers have been widened. In 1, it censured the then Commission and all 0 Commissioners had to resign. The defeat of the Takeover Directive, due to the concerted action of the German MEP’s, was a wake up call to the EU.

• See www.europarl.eu.int for further information.

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The Economic and Social Committee

• Alongside these institutions, the Economic and Social Committee, a consultative body, involves representatives of employers, trade unions and other groups in the process of drafting Community legislation.

• There are members, including 4 from the UK, appointed for four years. This is part-time work (0-5 days/year), done in addition to their normal job � they are there because of their job.

• They are organised in three groups Group 1 Employers; Group Workers; and Group Various Interests (farmers, craftsmen, dealers, professional activities, etc.).

• ECOSOC has to be consulted by the Commission, Council and the EP on the following issues Agriculture policy; Free movement of workers; Right of establishment; Freedom to provide services; Transport; Internal market; Social policy; European social fund; Vocational training; Research and technological training; and Environment.

• Whilst the Commission, Council and EP do not have to accept ECOSOC’s advice, it is part of the EU method of consensus building. This contrasts with the UK approach of I win, you lose, where the majority party normally gets its way, regardless of what the other parties and the majority of the population think. But there is a question on how beneficial this consultation is.

• In 000, ECOSOC issued 154 opinions upon consultation by the Council and Commission; 44 opinions on its own initiative; and 5 information reports.

• See www.esc.eu.int for further information.

The Committee of the Regions

• Another body ancillary to the Commission, Council and the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, introduces representation for regional and local bodies in the Community institutional system and has advisory functions.

• There are also members, including 4 from the UK, appointed for four years. This is again parttime work (0-5 days/year), done in addition to their normal job � they are there because of their job.

• They are organised into 8 Committees.

• The COR has to be consulted by the Commission, Council and the EP on the following issues Education; Culture; Public health; the Regional Development Fund; Implementation of the trans-European networks; and the Framework agreements for the structural funds

• There is a question as to whether the COR has influenced any proposals. The view of one MEP was that the COR should lobby the EP in the same way as everyone else � if the MEP’s are used to working this way, it may be the right thing to do.

• See www.cor.eu.int for further information.

The European Investment Bank

• The role of the European Investment Bank is to contribute on a financial level to the balanced development of the Community.

• It can currently lend up to Euro 50 billion to eligible projects. This money is obtained from the capital markets, using its AAA rating, supported by the commitment of its members.

• Eligible projects are in areas that the EU want to develop and would not otherwise happen or not happen quickly enough. Examples of such projects are Glasgow, where the council borrowed money from the EIB in order to install IT throughout its schools; major infrastructure links; renewable energy projects (the EU goal is 10%, with the market only expected to provide 5%).

• See www.eib.org for further information.

• The EIB should not be confused with the European Central Bank, which is based in Frankfurt, and is responsible for the Euro and setting interest rates for its participating countries. See www.ecb.int for further information.

The Court of Auditors

• The Court of Auditors monitors the implementation of the Community budget.

5 of 7

• 15 Judges appointed for six years, by Council of Ministers in consultation with the European Parliament. John Wiggins appointed from UK

• Independent, acting supremely, it looks after the external control of European public expenditure and gives opinions on the financial and budgetary plans of the EU.

• It has about 500 staff and is organised into four audit groups. All the Judges, except their President, are members of one or more audit groups.

• Draft reports and opinions are prepared by the groups and submitted to the 15 Judges for approval.

• See www.eca.eu.int for further information.

The Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance

• The Court of Justice, based from the outset in Luxembourg, together with the Court of First Instance, ensures that the law is observed in the process of Community integration.

• The Court of First Instance is the lower court. It has 15 Judges (Judge Nic Forwood from the UK) appointed for six years. It operates through 5 Chambers of to 5 Judges, although all 15 can meet for important cases.

• It can deal with cases brought by individuals or non-state organisations. Appeals on points of law (but not fact) can be made to the Court of Justice.

• The Court of Justice has 15 Judges (Judge David Edward from the UK) assisted by Advocates-General. They are appointed for six years.

• Advocates-General (not found in the UK legal system) make reasoned submissions in open Court, with complete impartiality and independence, on cases brought before the Court of Justice, in order to assist the Court in the performance of the task assigned to it.

• See www.curia.eu.int for further information.

Rapporteurs

• A system of Rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs is used widely in the EU, particularly in the EP.

Rapporteurs are appointed by the various committees and courts to review a proposal, obtain any necessary advice, and prepare a draft for the committee or court to review.

• Where a proposal affects more than one committee, the rapporteurs will liaise with each other.

Implementation of legislation

• Regulations are compulsory. They establish the end to be achieved and how to do it. The regulation is directly applicable in each state, simultaneously and uniformly.

• Directives bind each state as to the result to be achieved, but leaves the national authority to decide the form and the means. In practice, the maneuvering margin for each state is minimal.

• Decisions are addressed to a precisely defined individual, entity or member state.

• Recommendations and opinions are not binding, but useful guidance of national behavior and legislation.

• Once legislation has been passed by the EU, it is then generally passed to the member countries to implement. The members normally have several years to complete the implementation.

• It is at this stage that local officials can add interpretations that cause ridicule. One example was a UK official who was also a nature enthusiast. He modified the EU proposal in its UK drafting, with the consequence that a golf club had to flood its bunkers twice a year, in order to protect a species of grass the official was concerned about.

• National ministers undoubtedly take advantage of EU legislation to implement legislation they believe in, but publicly blame on the EU.

Lobbying

• This needs to be done at the start of the legislative process, if it is to be effective. It must also be focused and concise. A fax just before a vote is far too late and there is no time to read generic information.

• Send any proposed amendments electronically, preferably in before and after versions � this really will be appreciated. 6 of 7

• Any proposal should be seen to address the big picture. Get cross-border support if possible.

The EUs view of Britain

• Surprisingly good at various levels!

• The Commissioners are political animals and have a great interest in our parliament and political processes. Many have studied here and have a soft spot for the UK.

• The Commission as a whole, and perhaps the Council too, likes us. There is a feeling that if they get Britain on board for a particular proposal then it is more likely to succeed and be more complete. There was also an intellectual challenge to bring the UK round to an acceptable common position.

• There is some sympathy for the UKs position on the Euro. But we must join at some point. It is realised that with the UK’s anti-Euro press and many sceptical politicians, the UK cant jump in yet. On the other hand, if we dont decide relatively soon ( to years?), the goodwill may evaporate.

• British civil servants are highly regarded for the quick analysis of issues presented at meetings, and for briefings sent to the UK MEPs, etc - these are sought by other nationals.

The Press

• Whilst there is generally reasonable reporting of the EU throughout its member states, the UK xenophobic press is unique. It lacks coverage and has a negative attitude to the EU. None of the UK tabloids have a full time correspondent in Brussels. This is ridiculous, given that 40% of UK legislation originates here.

• It is good to have criticism, but the UK press is extreme. Whereas our MEPs, etc can expect to be interviewed by the press of other members periodically, the UK press are normally not interested and only become interested if they can report the EU in a negative way. When asbestos was found in one of the EU offices, one tabloid headline the next day was “EU to blow up Brussels HQ”. This was nonsense and pure sensationalism. The building is still there and is due to re-open shortly, with the asbestos removed.

• The exception to this is the FT, which is now a paper of note through-out Europe, read by most decision makers. If the Commission wants to progress something, they will often leak it to the FT. The Independent also has a reasonable reporting of EU issues.

• The UK regional press appears to have little interest in the EU, unless it is of direct relevance to its readership area.

Electoral attitudes

• The apathy shown by the UK and other electorates is a problem for the future.

• It may be that the affluence of the electorate leaves them uninterested. It may be that the press, particularly in the UK, disengages them from the political process. It may be that the management of the political messages, the spin-doctoring, disengages them from the political process.

• If the electorates are content to leave the politicians to get on with the job, it is sad but not a problem. If, on the other hand, this leads to violent activism by small minorities, as recently seen in the petrol price protests last year and the anti-capitalism protests this year, it becomes a problem that both the politicians and the press should think about.

• Whilst the people in the EU appear to want to get their message across, they are unclear as how to do it. It is not always in the member country government’s interest to give the EU credit (they like to take credit for the good bits & blame the EU for the difficult bits).

• Even when there is a clear message to deliver (and there are briefings every day in Brussels), these have limited benefit if the press is unwilling to report on them and/or only reports the negative side of every thing.

• If the EU is about consensus building, then it would seem that the EU system may give the electorate a more responsive result than the UK model. But it can be slower and involve a lot of horse trading.

• A problem for the EU is the sheer size of size of a constituency. How do you represent 600,000 people? The superiority of the EU system to Westminster may be illusory. It will always be difficult for 7 of 7 the EU to be close to its citizens and the EU does sometimes get out of step with the majority view. Perhaps the key is the politicians and civil servants � if they are motivated to move the EU/UK forward, then either system will probably produce a good result. If they are motivated to move themselves forward regardless of moving the EU/UK forward, then neither system will produce a good result.







ECONOMIC AND MONETARY UNION

Economic and monetary union is a logical accompaniment to the single market and a major political milestone on the road to a united Europe. Uniting currencies which to the countries of Europe were the symbols and instruments of their sovereignty for several centuries is a venture which has neither a precedent in our history since the Roman Empire, nor any equivalent elsewhere in the world. A single European currency should come into circulation on 1 January 1, replacing national currencies as from 1 January 00, and helping to make the man in the street more aware of belonging to a new entity.

The emergence of the single European currency is the result of lengthy, patient development.

In 170 the Werner Report came out in favour of creating an economic and monetary union in three stages over a period of ten years. But the political will to press ahead with this union was weakened by the first oil crisis and the project ran out of steam.

However, a European exchange-rate system, popularly known as the snake, was introduced in 17. In 174 the Council adopted a Decision designed to bring about a high degree of convergence between national economies and a Directive on stability, growth and full employment. However, growing economic instability gradually eroded the foundations of the system and the French franc, sterling and the Italian lira left the snake.

THE EUROPEAN MONETARY SYSTEM

The EMS has three main components. On 6 and 7 July 178, at the Bremen European Council, the Heads of State and Government decided to establish the European Monetary System (EMS), which came into force on 1 March 17.

The EMS has created a zone of monetary stability in Europe, encouraging growth and investment.

· The ECU This is seen as the key element in the system. It is a basket of the currencies of the Member States.

· The exchange-rate and intervention mechanisms Each currency has a central exchange rate linked to the ECU. This is used to determine central rates for each pair of currencies. Until August 1 bilateral exchange rates were allowed to fluctuate within a band of .5%, or up to 6% in exceptional cases, around the central rate. Since then the band has been increased to 15% following serious upsets on the currency markets.

· The credit mechanisms In the event of bilateral exchange rates approaching the 15% threshold, central banks have unlimited liability to intervene to ensure that the threshold is not crossed.

The EMS has succeeded in creating a zone of increasing monetary stability. But it has still to achieve its true potential. Several currencies remain outside the exchange-rate mechanism or are allowed to fluctuate within wider bands. Insufficient convergence of national budgetary policies has created tensions, and some competitive devaluations have threatened the unity of the single market.

The last lap on the road to EMU

In order to remove the non-tariff barriers to the free movement of goods, capital, services and persons and complete the single market, the single currently quickly seemed to be a necessity.

On the basis of the report submitted by the Commission President, Jacques Delors, in June 18, the Madrid European Council defined the objectives in broad terms the Community was to embark on a process comprising several stages, the first of which was to begin on 1 July 10, and culminating in the introduction of a single currency. Monetary and economic progress would go hand in hand.

During the first stage the Member States would draw up convergence programmes designed to promote improvements in and convergence of economic performance, thereby making it possible to establish fixed exchange rates.

The Treaty of Maastricht

The Treaty signed in Maastricht on 7 February 1 makes progress towards a single currency irreversible, by splitting the timetable of achievements into three stages.

The criteria for going on to the third stage have been set as follows

· price stability the rate of inflation may not exceed the average rates of inflation of the three Member States with the lowest inflation by more than 1.5%;

· interest rates long-term interest rates shall not vary by more than % in relation to the average interest rates of the three Member States with the lowest interest rates;

· deficits national budget deficits must be close to or below % of the GNP;

· debt public debt may exceed 60% of GNP only if the trend is declining towards this level;

· exchange rate stability a national currency shall not have been devalued during the two previous years and must have remained within the EMS .5% margin of fluctuation.

Stage II of economic and monetary union began on 1 January 14. It is a transitional stage during which a determined effort will be made to achieve economic convergence. A European Monetary Institute (EMI) was set up in Frankfurt to strengthen the coordination of Member States monetary policies, promote the use of the ECU and prepare the ground for the creation of a European Central Bank in Stage III.

The Madrid European Council on 15 and 16 December 15 christened the future European currency the Euro and adopted the technical procedure for creating it.

Stage III will begin on 1 January 1. In May 18 the Member States Finance Ministers will decide, on the basis of reports from the Commission and the EMI, which Member States meet the conditions for adoption of a single currency. The Commission considers that as regards the economic forecasts of the future, a majority of Member States will be able to fulfil the conditions set for the Euro by 1 January 1. The Heads of State and Government meeting within the Council will confirm by qualified majority, after consulting the European Parliament, which Member States fulfil the conditions necessary for the single currency to be adopted.

At the beginning of Stage III a European Central Bank will be set up and the exchange rates between the participating currencies will be fixed once and for all. The Bank will be independent of national governments and will manage the monetary policies of all the Member States joining the single currency. Member States outside the currency union will join as soon as their economic performance permits, or when they take the political decision.

The single currency, the ECU, must be introduced on 1 January 1 for the administrations and the banks. On 1 January 00 at the latest, the Euro coins and notes must be in circulation. The common faces of the coins were officially introduced at the Amsterdam European Council. Technical discussions considered the opinion of the partially sighted and consumers as to their shape and composition.

On 1 July 00, the Euro will replace national currencies in the Member States joining the single currency. Between these two dates, prices will be displayed both in ECUs and in the national currency to help European consumers familiarise themselves gradually with the new currency.

Under protocols to the Treaty, the United Kingdom and Denmark reserve the right to opt out of Stage III even if they meet the economic performance criteria. Following a referendum Denmark stated that it did not intend to take part. Sweden also made clear its reservations.

In order to complete the provisions of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Council meeting on 17 June 17 in Amsterdam adopted two important resolutions

· the first one, known as the stability and growth pact, commits the Member States to keep to their budgets. This discipline will be guaranteed by multilateral supervision and a ban on excessive deficits.

· the other resolution concerns growth. It indicates whether the Member States and the Commission are firmly committed to providing the impetus for keeping jobs at the forefront of the Unions political concerns.

In the resolution on the coordination of the economic policies during Stage III of the EMU, which the European Council adopted in Luxembourg on 1 December 17, it took an important decision by stipulating that the Ministers of the Member States joining the EMU may meet together informally to discuss questions arising from the specific responsibilities they share under the single currency. The Heads of Government of the Fifteen thus opened the door to a process of strengthening joint membership, which could bring those countries which adopted the Euro in their economic, budget, social and tax policies even closer together, beyond monetary union itself.

The introduction of a single currency by the end of the century is the European Unions most ambitious goal yet. There are bound to be setbacks along the way which will test the political will of the Member States involved. The crucial question of public opinions acceptance of an innovation which directly affects the daily life of every citizen will also decide the success of the Euro.



The Timetable of the Euro 10 December 11 Treaty on the European Union signed · decision made to set up a monetary union and adopt five convergence criteria 1er January 14 second stage of the EMU (transitional period) · EMI set up in Frankfurt; · procedures strengthened for coordinating European economic policies; · excessive deficits fought and policy for economic convergence of the Member States; · independence of national central banks. 16 December 15 Madrid European Council · the name Euro adopted; · the technical procedure for introducing the Euro and the timetable for going over to the single currency established. 14 December 16 Dublin European Council · pact on budget stability and growth adopted · the Euro acquires legal status. 16 June 17 Amsterdam European Council · treaty on stability and growth confirmed; · regulations adopted on the legal status of the Euro; · EMS First Round for countries not involved in the single currency resolved; · design of the coins chosen. 1 December 17 Luxembourg European Council · coordination of economic policies during the third stage of the EMU (multilateral supervision) and Art. 10 and 10b of the Treaty resolved (exchange rate policy and the Communitys representation at international level) 1 and May 18 the European Council defines the list of countries joining the single currency based on the convergence criteria; · the European Parliament is consulted; · irreversible bilateral exchange rates set. In 18 European Central Bank (ECB) established, · Its executive committee appointed; · Production of coins and notes started.1 January 1 · third stage of the EMU; the Euro becomes a currency in its own right; · banks and businesses transfer to the Euro. 1 January 00 the Euro is introduced; coins and notes go into circulation. 1 July 00 at the latest the status of national coins and notes as legal currency is abolished.



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