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The impact of the single currency - Commission urges SMEs to plan

Europe's single currency - the euro - is due to be introduced on 1 January 1999, with notes and coins replacing national currencies from January 2002. To help European citizens and companies cope with the changes, the European Commission has developed a range of information se...
Europe's single currency - the euro - is due to be introduced on 1 January 1999, with notes and coins replacing national currencies from January 2002. To help European citizens and companies cope with the changes, the European Commission has developed a range of information services.

Changing to the euro will impact on a wide range of aspects of business, including accounting, marketing, computing support, banking, legal support and administration. The Commission is concerned that SMEs are not as prepared for the changeover as large companies. In particular, the Commission emphasizes that the changeover needs to be seen as more than just a technical change, with wider strategic consequences for SMEs, even those which do not trade outside their own country.

The Commission is urging all SMEs to start preparing for the changeover, although the countries due to join the euro zone in January 1999 will not be settled until a special meeting of the European Council in early May 1998. At European level, the Commission is concentrating on an information campaign, with detailed advice on preparations delivered at local level by organizations such as EuroInfo Centres, Chambers of Commerce and banks.

The Commission has proposed a changeover plan for SMEs to help in their planning. Starting from the creation of a "euro working group", bringing together representatives from all departments within a company, the plan covers the following stages:

- Identification of the main impacts on each business function and the creation of an inventory/checklist of required options. (Possibly including the creation of task forces for specific challenges);

- Development of changeover scenarios (e.g. rapid versus delayed use of the euro), including budgets and calendar for actions. Companies should endeavour to benefit from this complete "systems audit", by discarding inefficient, outdated systems, looking for synergies and attempting to incorporate the euro requirements into existing projects. They could also consider including euro requirements in their normal capital maintenance or investment schedules, for example by ensuring new equipment such as cash registers are euro-compatible;

- Communication of the proposed actions throughout the company at all levels;

- Managed implementation of these actions throughout the company.

The Commission has developed a World Wide Web service to provide information on all aspects of the changeover to the euro to European citizens and companies. This may be found at:

http://europa.eu.int/euro/

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