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"New currency, stable prices": consumers and retailers agree on common approach to facilitate final phase of euro changeover

Commission Européenne - IP/01/498   03/04/2001

Autres langues disponibles: FR DE

IP/01/498

Brussels, 3 April 2001

"New currency, stable prices": consumers and retailers agree on common approach to facilitate final phase of euro changeover

Representatives of European consumers, craft organisations, the distributive trades, the tourism industry and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) signed today an agreement of good practices to promote consumer familiarity and to facilitate the introduction of euro coins and notes. The agreement's main objectives are to increase awareness, confidence and understanding of the euro among consumers before the end of 2001, and to assist retailers in switching to the euro. Retailers undertake to start fixing and displaying prices in euros as of September 2001, giving them higher visibility than prices in national currencies, and to maintain this practice at least until the end of the dual circulation period. They also commit themselves to do everything to ensure the overall stability of their price level when fixing prices in euro. This last commitment is to be publicised by using the European slogan "new currency, stable prices". Consumer organisations agree to raise consumer awareness about the commitments made by retailers and to encourage consumers to make as many payments in euro as possible right from the beginning of 2002. Both retailers and consumer groups will also encourage consumers to pay close attention to euro-denominated prices and to raise the awareness of timing and modalities of the introduction of euro notes and coins. They will call on Member States to intensify communication campaigns and to increase efforts to familiarise the public with the euro. The Commission has played an important role in brokering this agreement by arranging successive meetings and discussions with the interested groups. The Commission will continue to work together with all user groups to achieve an efficient changeover to the euro.

The Commission welcomes the agreement. Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, said: "Consumers and retailers will be in the front line of the very practical changeover to the new currency in the beginning of next year. It is our wish that this takes place with the best preparation and in a relationship of confidence." Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, responsible for Enterprise and Information Society, added: "Retailers will also have to act as an information point for consumers and as a filter to allow for the withdrawal of old coins and notes and the introduction of new ones. By signing this agreement, they demonstrate that they are determined to meet the logistic and organisational challenges ahead." Both consumers and retailers need to understand the new prices, to recognise the new coins and banknotes and to manage the two types of coins and notes in their wallets and cash desks in the transition period. Commissioner Pedro Solbes, responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs, underlined:

"The importance of working together and taking a proactive approach. This agreement is another concrete demonstration that all economic actors are working efficiently for the euro-changeover preparation and is in right in line with the Commission's Recommendation of October 2000."

Today's agreement builds upon and reinforces the voluntary commitments already agreed within the framework of the Euro Logo Agreement of 1998. In practice only one in two retailers has introduced dual pricing. The balance is in general positive in larger supermarkets, but many small and medium sized shops, restaurants and hotels are very often still working exclusively in national currencies. Furthermore, consumers are not yet sufficiently well prepared and do not pay enough attention to the current dual display of prices. They need to be made aware of the existence of this type of codes of conduct.

Together, consumers and retailers call on national, regional and local authorities to reinforce and re-launch information campaigns about the euro logo and similar agreements about dual pricing. The authorities need to devote more resources to euro Observatories or similar organisations set up to prevent difficulties between consumers and retailers. They have to step up efforts to help consumers to familiarise themselves with the euro, in particular by using it in everyday life as much as possible, and to ease the changeover for both retailers and consumers by providing training tools and through a wide-scale distribution of euro starter kits.

The agreement was signed on 2 April by EuroCommerce, UEAPME, ECTAA (Group of National Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Associations within the EU), Hotrec (Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés in Europe), EUROPIA, IEIC (European Inter-regional Institute of Consumer Affairs), AEC (Association of European Consumers), COFACE (Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Community), Inclusion Europe (The Association of persons with Intellectual disabilities and their families), VKI (Austrian Consumer Association), ANCC/COOP (National Association of Consumer co-operatives, Italia) and CLCV (Confédération Logement Cadre de Vie).

The full text of the agreement is available on the web-sites of Directorate General (DG) Health and Consumer Protection at :

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/policy/developments/euro/index

and of DG Economic and Monetary Affairs at :

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/document/euro/declaration_02_04_2001/declaration_02_04_2001_en.htm


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