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Euro banknotes are 20 years old


During the night of December 31 to January 1, 2002, the automatic teller machines of ten countries of the European continent began to distribute the very first blue-green or red denominations of euros.

We rushed over to see what it looked like. There was real interest, real curiosity, says Lydia, a French woman she met at the Lille Christmas market.

In this region of northern France, located a few kilometers from the border with Belgium, the changeover to the euro marked a real change.

There are a number of traders in Lille who accepted the Belgian franc. It made it easier for them to no longer have to process these two currencies, to no longer have to have two cash funds., says Olivier Ceccotti, who was working at the time at the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Olivier Ceccotti was responsible for the euro transition file for the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Olivier Ceccotti was responsible for the euro transition file for the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair

In the year before the changeover to the new currency, this man, who bore the nickname of Mr euro, led a campaign to prepare and support businesses in the region.

It still required a big adaptation and the installation of tools like converters and labels to display the prices in euros and francs so that the general public appropriates it.

A quote from Olivier Ceccotti, former head of the transition to the euro at the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Canadian entrepreneur Marc Gauthier, who has been doing business in France for over 20 years, also has vivid memories of the impact of the currency change.

It took several years to acclimatize. In stores, we had to display prices in francs and euros, testifies the one who is at the head of the clothing company Qimmik.

What assessment?

For millions of Europeans, the euro is now part of everyday life.

A man in front of a metro ticket machine that accepts euros in Madrid, in 2002.

The euro first appeared in around ten European Union countries in January 2002.

Photo: Reuters / STR New

Honoré, a young man met in Lille, was only eight years old when the currency appeared. He only retains vague memories of the franc.

Today, it represents an ease of exchange with neighboring countries, because, casually, being able to go abroad without changing your money is a plus, he says.

But the single currency, the introduction of which has long been contested by some political parties calling for a return to national currencies, continues to face criticism decades later.

Twenty years later, I continue to convert. I keep on comparing prices and find it has really increased, says for example a customer met at the Christmas market in Lille, echoing the comments of other consumers.

Has the changeover to the euro contributed to increasing prices on the continent?

In 2017, a study by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) indicated that between 2002 and 2016 consumer prices had increased by 1.4%, a smaller increase than during the previous 15 years. .

Economist Jérôme Creel recognizes that some prices, including that of the baguette, may have increased due to the change in currency. He added, however, that the increases mainly affected certain goods that we use frequently, but which represent a relatively small part of all the goods that we consume weekly or monthly.

The economist Jérôme Creel.

The economist Jérôme Creel recalls that the transition to the euro in January 2002 was the subject of frameworks.

Photo: TurnedNews.com / Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair.

The director of studies at the OFCE of Science Po also recalls that measures had been taken to prepare for the monetary transition.

First, the euro made its appearance as a virtual currency used by financial institutions in 1999, three years before the printing of banknotes.

Then, in the six months surrounding the switch to the new currency, a price freeze was declared. Jérôme Creel nevertheless recognizes that this did not prevent certain sectors to anticipate the freeze to slightly increase their prices some time before the adoption of the euro.

A sculpture depicting the euro symbol in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

A sculpture depicting the euro symbol in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

Photo: Reuters / Ralph Orlowski

Finally, to join the euro zone, the member countries of the European Union had to respect conditions so that the change of currency does not create an economic shock.

The euro, which is today the official currency of some 20 countries on the continent, could continue to expand in the coming years. Croatia and Bulgaria have indicated their intention to adopt the currency in turn.

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