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The beginning of January 2002 will see the biggest switch of currencies the world has ever seen.  Many of the EEC countries will adopt the Euro as the unit of currency common to all of them.  The UK has not as yet entered this new system but will probably have a referendum on the subject when the government thinks it is right to do so.

Euro Decision Day Looming In The UK

Meantime the change will have an impact on anyone travelling to or from the continent of Europe whether on holiday or for business.  Many UK businesses have already geared up for the change as many of their customers will be travelling with Euros in their pocket and wish to spend them rather than changing currencies.  Whatever happens many people need to be prepared for the changes almost here.

On 1 January 2002, the euro banknotes and coins will be introduced in 12 Member States of the European Union. There will be seven different banknotes and eight coins.


The advent of the euro, however, means much more than exchanging one currency for another. It involves individuals and businesses not only in the countries that have joined the single currency, but all over the world.

It is in all our best interests to familiarise ourselves with the look and feel of the euro banknotes and coins.



The new coins 50 million of them will have one side common to all 12 countries and a reverse side specific to each country, while the 14.5 billion banknotes will look the same throughout the euro area. Altogether, the banknotes and coins being produced total over 664 billion.

Belgian franc 40.3399 Deutsche Mark 1.95583
Greek drachma 340.750 Spanish peseta 166.386
French franc 6.55957 Irish pound 0.787564
Italian lira 1936.27 Luxembourg franc 40.3399
Dutch guilder 2.20371 Austrian schilling 13.7603
Portuguese escudo 200.482 Finnish markka 5.94573


Beginning on New Years Day there will be a two month transition period where national currencies like the franc, drachma, and lira can still be used, but by 1 March 2002 euro banknotes and coins will become the *ONLY* currency accepted in the 12 countries of the euro area (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.) Deutsche marks will cease to be legal tender on 1 January, Dutch guilders on 28 January, Irish pounds on 9 February, French francs on 17 February, and the eight remaining national currencies will cease to be legal tender on 28 February.

What if you have a pocketful of guilders, escudos, and marks after 1 March? Unlike old military scrip that became worthless the moment new money was minted, old national currencies will *NOT* lose their value.  You just won't be able to purchase anything with them. You can, however, exchange old national currencies for new euro well after the 1 March deadline. In fact, the 12 national central banks of the euro area will exchange national banknotes for euro free of charge for a minimum of ten years, and national coins for a minimum of two years (and some really cool national central banks of the euro area will continue to exchange national banknotes and coins well beyond this time.)

Factsheet From Interpol on Euro Counterfeiting

Euro Information A UK Treasury web site

Euro Information Campaign

Euro Essentials          Timetable       Coins & Notes

Euro Stories At Guardian Newspaper

Euro Debate At The Observer Newspaper

Euro & European Monetary Union From Yahoo

The Euro Debate

Diameter (mm): 25.75
Thickness (mm): 2.20
Weight (g): 8.50
Shape: Round
Colour: Outer part: white; inner part: yellow
Composition: Outer part: copper-nickel; inner part: three layers: nickel brass, nickel, nickel brass
Edge: Edge lettering, fine milled
Diameter (mm): 23.25
Thickness (mm): 2.33
Weight (g): 7.50
Shape: Round
Colour: Outer part: yellow; inner part: white
Composition: Outer part: nickel brass; inner part: three layers: copper-nickel, nickel, copper-nickel
Edge: Interrupted milled
50 cent
Diameter (mm): 24.25
Thickness (mm): 2.38
Weight (g): 7.80
Shape: Round
Colour: Yellow
Composition: Nordic gold
Edge: Shaped edge with fine scallops
20 cent
Diameter (mm): 22.25
Thickness (mm): 2.14
Weight (g): 5.74
Shape: Spanish flower shape
Colour: Yellow
Composition: Nordic gold
Edge: Plain
10 cent
Diameter (mm): 19.75
Thickness (mm): 1.93
Weight (g): 4.10
Shape: Round
Colour: Yellow
Composition: Nordic gold
Edge: Shaped edge with fine scallops
5 cent
Diameter (mm): 21.25
Thickness (mm): 1.67
Weight (g): 3.92
Shape: Round
Colour: Red
Composition: Copper-covered steel
Edge: Smooth
2 cent
Diameter (mm): 18.75
Thickness (mm): 1.67
Weight (g): 3.06
Shape: Round
Colour: Red
Composition: Copper-covered steel
Edge: Smooth with a groove
1 cent
Diameter (mm): 16.25
Thickness (mm): 1.67
Weight (g): 2.30
Shape: Round
Colour: Red
Composition: Copper covered steel
Edge: Smooth

Interactive Currency Convertor


Chancellor Gordon Brown Speech 9 June 2003
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