Now that decisions on EMU have been taken at the highest level, preparations for the launch of the euro on Jan. 1, 1999 will increasingly focus on the practical aspects for businesses and consumers.
In terms of bank accounts, it will be possible to have euro-denominated accounts from the very start of EMU, which is of primary interest to companies that want to use the euro for internal financial accounting, or to make transfers or payments in euro.
The general public will largely continue to keep their accounts in national currencies until euro-denominated notes and coins are introduced on Jan. 1, 2002. According to “Eurecom,” the monthly bulletin of EU economic and financial news, there will be no obligation to use euros before that date, although financial institutions will make euro-denominated services available to customers who want them.
On April 15, 1998, the European Commission recommended a “standard of good practice” on banking charges for conversion to the euro. Underpinned by the principle that compulsory aspects of the changeover should be free for the consumer, the recommendation covers conversion of accounts, payments and exchange of bank notes and coins. The commission has also invited banks and consumer groups to develop a code of conduct in this area, failing which, the commission will examine the need for binding legislation.
As with other financial services, euro-denominated credit cards will be available from Jan. 1, 1990 and consumers will be able to make payments in euros with their existing credit cards.
Dual pricing – showing values in both euros and national currencies – will play a vital role in helping the general public adapt to the euro’s arrival. Although not compulsory, evidence from retailers, utilities and financial services firms indicates a large majority is planning to provide such displays. Based on a report from a group of experts, the commission will soon publish a “standard of good practice” for dual pricing displays.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
On the complex subject of rounding, EU rules are clear: