Currency speculation ends with the

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The Independent Online
A no-entry sign. A squashed pound. A bent banana. Whatever you think of the new euro symbol, you'd better get used to it.

The European Commission yesterday unveiled the symbol for the single currency, in the latest drive to win public support for monetary union. E is for euro. E is for Europe. And E is for excitement. That is the message from Brussels, though cynics might say E is for error. The drawing of the logo comes in cheerful yellow on blue - the colours of the EU flag.

Barring strong objection to the design from member states, there now seems little doubt that the logo will be accepted as the euro's definitive symbol.

Monetary union could start as early as 1999. Although the euro notes and coins will not be in circulation until 2002, the symbol is expected to start appearing on vending machines, computers and calculators well before. Prices will also be printed in euros alongside national currency prices, ahead of launch.

Publication of the symbol on the eve of the European Union Dublin summit is clearly intended to give a boost to the drive towards the single currency and add a sparkle to complex negotiations on the euro-zone.

Germany, loathe to see its own dear DM disappear into history, is at loggerheads with other member states over the rules for the single currency. But leaders will nevertheless be able to assert that the euro is already ready to take its place alongside the pounds , the $ and the as a world-currency symbol.

In another sign of rapid progress, the design of the euro notes is to be unveiled in Dublin on Friday. It has been decided to leave space for a small national symbol, which means the Queen's head could yet appear on the euro if Britain signs up for a single currency.

The note designs will be based on different European themes. The drawings will depict different ages in European history, showing, for example, famous Europeans and monuments. Preparation for the euro coins, by Europe's mint masters, is also well under way, and the European Commission plans to launch a competition for the design of the coin faces.