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Recommendations for future changeovers to the euro

Following the recent enlargements of the European Union (EU), new States are preparing to join the euro area. In order to facilitate this transition, the Commission is drawing from experience gained during the previous introductory phases of the single currency.

ACT

Commission Recommendation (EC) No. 78/2008 of 10 January 2008 on measures to facilitate future changeovers to the euro [Official Journal L 23 of 26.1.2008].

SUMMARY

The Commission has adopted a recommendation to prepare for the future enlargements of the euro area. The adoption of a single currency by the new countries will be concomitant to the introduction of euro cash.

States must put into place special structures for the planning and coordination of the changeover to the euro. The national changeover plans, covering the principal aspects of the changeover, should be prepared in cooperation with the main economic operators* and regularly updated.

Informing citizens

States are encouraged to launch publicity campaigns before and after the introduction of the new currency. In particular they must raise citizens’ awareness of the new scale of value, inform them of the practical measures being implemented for the introduction of the new currency and the security features of the euro. Special attention must be paid to vulnerable people and to those who experience difficulty accessing information.

Dual display of prices and all other amounts to be paid, credited or debited will be mandatory during the initial period, as soon as possible after the adoption date of the fixed conversion rate, and during the six months to a year following the adoption of the euro. The Member States must monitor the evolution of prices during this period and regularly inform their citizens.

Facilitating the changeover to the euro

States must implement measures enabling the main economic operators concerned to prepare for the changeover to the euro and must supervise this preparation. In particular they must inform businesses of the timetable for the introduction of the new currency and the changes required to administrative and financial systems. States must monitor the practical preparations of the economic operators, specifically through regular surveys. Public administrations, credit institutions and businesses should train their personnel to work with the new cash.

Cash exchange must begin before the changeover to the euro. Credit institutions and sales outlets should make use of the frontloading* and sub-frontloading* of euro banknotes and coins. Kits of euro coins should be distributed to small retail outlets and citizens.

Cash withdrawals and exchange should be facilitated during the introductory phase of the euro. Sales outlets should be required to give change in euros, and cash dispensers and electronic point-of-sale terminals must be converted as soon as the euro is introduced. Banks must adapt their opening hours during the dual currency circulation period in order to facilitate exchange of the old national currency for the euro.

Preventing abusive practices

Agreements should be negotiated with the retail and service sectors in order to ensure a neutral impact of the euro introduction on prices. Signatories to the agreement will be given a logo and their compliance with the conditions of the agreement will be monitored in cooperation with consumer associations. Dissuasive measures and fines could be foreseen.

The same bank charges applicable to payment transactions in national currency should be, after conversion, applicable to payment transactions in euro.

Context

States which introduced the euro in 1999 and 2002 had a long transition period between the adoption of the currency by the money markets and the circulation of cash. For those States which have recently adopted the euro and those which are preparing to do so, the strategy for the changeover to the euro has been modified, specifically by an introduction of coins and notes concomitant to the adoption of the euro. The last Commission Recommendation 2000/C 303/05 on measures to facilitate the preparation of economic operators for the changeover to the euro [OJ C 303 of 24.10.2000], is no longer adapted to the next enlargements of the euro area.

Key terms of the act
  • Frontloading: the physical delivery of euro banknotes and coins by a future Eurosystem (NCB) to eligible counterparties in the territory of a future participating Member State in the euro area.
  • Sub-frontloading: the delivery of frontloaded euro banknotes and coins by an eligible counterparty to professional third parties in the territory of a future participating Member State in the euro area.
  • Economic operators: a term which applies to credit institutions, the retail sector, CIT companies, the vending industry, consumer associations and chambers of commerce in particular.
Last updated: 22.01.2009

See also

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