Leader – 1 October

Are you ready for the euro? Europe’s single currency goes live on 1 January next year. Yet, according to our Big Question survey this week, only a quarter of UK finance directors think their organisation will be ready on New Year’s Day. Many of those who will not be ready no doubt wonder what all the fuss is about. How wrong they are.

Britain has a long and inglorious history of ignoring what happens on mainland Europe until it is too late, usually to its great cost. British business’ view of the euro has been largely shaped by the domestic political debate which has focused on irrelevant issues like whether the queen’s head should appear on the coinage. The furthest that most SME’s have got is in recognising it is a new currency. Even among large companies there is still a feeling that it is something happening ‘over there’, recalling the apocryphal headline ‘Fog in the Channel – Europe cut off’.

The euro is bound to have a profound effect on the way Europe does business.

More than any other change it will make a reality of the common market.

It will affect financial decisions at all levels from product pricing to equity trading.

Next week, we begin our ‘Countdown to the Euro’ with an in-depth analysis of the business implications of the single currency. This week’s news that so few companies are ready for it is bad news for British business.

The euro goes live in just 13 weeks. Time is running out, fast.

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