Euro introduction (e-day)

The introduction of the euro was a key test of the success of Europe's biggest project, the economic and monetary union. It was the single biggest issue confronting European finance ministers for months, as the new european currency would have to be introduced into circulation silmutaneously for all participating countries, on January 1, 2002. How smoothly the changeover would go, and how the currency would fare on the exchange markets, would be critically important for the future of the currency as it would help the rest of the EU countries, who decided not to join the monetary union, to reconsider. Problems of security and logistics were the biggest headaches, but they were not alone. The sheer quantity of notes and coins that would have to be introduced is staggering, providing obvious opportunities for robbers. The confusion of the changeover was also seen as a window of opportunity for counterfeiters and money launderers. European officials were cautiously confident that banks and large companies would be prepared for E-day, but doubts still remained about the readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises, and the risk of inflationary price rises in shops.

The EU's attempts to gauge the public mood suggested a gradual warming towards the single currency. From spring to autumn 2000 the Eurobarometer poll detected a drop in support for the euro from 58% to 55%, however spring 2001 saw a rebound to 59%. Among the 12 states that would soon be switching currencies, support had risen to 66%. Of these countries, Finland was the only one where less than half of the population (49%) supported the euro in spring that year, while Germany, Austria and Portugal came in at less than 60%. The most positive were Italy and Luxembourg (above 80%) followed by Belgium, Greece and Ireland (above 70%). The countries least enthusiastic about the euro were, predictably, those that will be steering clear of it for the time being - the UK, Sweden and Denmark.

Information campaign

The time required for the transisiton to the new currency varied from country to country, depending on how efficient the publicity and teaching campaign had been. The first European planning in 1995, dictated that the new and the old currencies would both circulate at the same time for the first 6 months. However, in 1999 the decision was reduced to just 4 weeks. This change suggested, that the majority of financial transactions would be made in Euros by January 15, 2002, a mere 2 weeks after the initial introduction of the currency. To cope with this, the Central European Bank and the national banks in the Euro-zone, launched a europe-wide campaign to inform the public of the new changes. In November 1999, Publicis was chosen to help organize the campaign, with a predicted cost of 80 million euros for 2 years. The objective was to ensure that the general public and professional cash handlers, in both the eurozone and other countries, were informed about the denominations of euro banknotes and coins, the visual appearance of euro banknotes and coins, the security features and the changeover modalities.

These messages were delivered via four main information channels.

  • Press and public relations activities designed to raise awareness of the changeover and to make the public more receptive to the new cash. They mainly consisted of press conferences and euro events, as well as providing material for the media (press kits, videos, etc.)
  • A Partnership Programme, which involved more than 3,000 organisations using Eurosystem information materials on euro banknotes and coins in their communications to employees, customers and suppliers, and which extended the reach and multiplied the impact of this information
  • A mass media campaign on TV and in the press from autumn 2001 to early 2002. A public information leaflet (200 million copies) and children's poster (7 million copies) in the 11 official languages of the European Union were also distributed during that period in the euro area countries. In addition, the leaflet was translated into 23 other languages [*]
  • A dedicated website ( supported other areas of the programme, e.g. it allowed the official partners to download materials that they could adapt and reproduce

Although it is somewhat difficult to assess the effect of a campaign conducted in the 12 countries of the euro area and aimed at more than 300 million people, the public's greater familiarity with the euro banknotes and coins in the last few months of 2001 and, above all, the smoothness and rapidity of the cash changeover in the euro area reflect the success of the Euro 2002 Information Campaign (which complemented national campaigns) and the logistics of the changeover.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)

The Automatic Teller Machines in the 12 country-member states played an important role to the successful transition to the new currency. ATMs would be the first places to supply the European public with Euros, and because of the different time-zones across Europe Hellas was the first country to receive the new currency. According to statistics, 60,000 ATMs were installed in Germany, 44,000 in Spain, 35,000 in France, 31,700 in Italy, 8,500 in Portugal, 7,000 in the Netherlands, 6,600 in Belgium, 5,800 in Austria, 3,897 in Hellas, 2,200 in Finland, 1,235 in Ireland and only 350 in Luxembourg. The wide difference between the countries is attributed not only to the difference in population figures and the number of banks, but also to the fact that in some states ATMs are installed in super markets, metro stations, highways etc. Although the task of adjusting all these machines to the new currency on time was difficult and time consuing, it is estimated that 85%-90% of all ATMs were able to supply the new currency by the end of the first week of January.

[*] Albanian, Belarussian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, the official language of FYROM, Moldavian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Turkish, Ukrainian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic