PracticeConsultingMelanie Johnson.

Melanie Johnson.

There are now fewer than 90 days to go until euro notes and coins are a reality – 14.5bn new notes and 40bn new coins.

The cash weighs more than 24 Eiffel Towers. The coins alone would stretch to the moon and back twice.

British businesses trading across the EU are soon going to discover the euro on their doorstep, in their accounts, in their invoices, in their tendering and in their tax returns.

Businesses need to consider how they prepare for this change. The level of impact and the time it takes to prepare will be different in each case.

But there are questions that all businesses can and should be looking at now.

Do I need to make and receive payments in euros? Should my price lists be issued in euros? Do I need to issue invoices in euros? Can my IT system cope with the euro? Can my staff? Where do I stand with my contracts?

My tax returns? What are my competitors doing about this?

Clearly, the more trading links a business has with the eurozone, the more action it will have to take and the sooner it will need to take that action. Preparing now gives businesses a competitive edge. Leaving it too late means a trick is missed and initial business could be lost.

The accountancy profession has already done a great job working with government to get business ready. But there is more we must do as 2002 gets ever closer.

Ask your clients if they have thought about the impact of the euro on their business. Point them towards our website (www.euro.gov.uk); suggest they ring our euro helpline (08456 010199); guide them to one of the the dozens of events which our regional business euro forums are holding up and down the country. Further details of all of these are available on the website.

We have just published a new, simple and clear leaflet – Competing in Europe Using the Euro – to help businesses do a last-minute audit on whether they are euro-prepared. If you want copies to hand out to your clients then email us at euro.info@hm-treasury.gov.uk or come and see us.

Whatever your views on the euro, it will be a reality for 12 of the EU member states in less than three months’ time.

Let’s work together to get business ready for this – before it’s too late.

– Melanie Johnson is minister for competition, consumers and markets at the DTI.

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