Euro chiefs unveil Emu hard-sell

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The Independent Online
European Union monetary chiefs yesterday brushed aside any threat to the launch of the single currency from the financial turmoil in Asia, moving instead to unveil a massive Europe-wide marketing campaign to indoctrinate the general public into acceptance of the new money.

The Asian crisis would have no impact whatsoever on the timing of the launch of economic and monetary union because Europe has remained a haven of "cohesion and stability" from the outset, Yves Thibault de Silguy, the European monetary affairs commissioner said.

But only three months away from the crucial decisions on which countries will be admitted to the first wave of monetary union, the Commission is now turning its attention for the first time to the public. "The indications we have are that there is a very low level of information out there, even in those member states where a majority of people consider Emu a good thing," admitted a spokesman.

But while the Commission now believes it is time to hit the living rooms of Europe (television and radio advertisements should start soon, the Commission advises) it is being careful to avoid a Big Brother approach.

But there is scepticism that the sums of money being earmarked for the campaign, around pounds 20m this year and pounds 25m in 1999, are too meagre given the enormous challenge of selling the Euro. Officials concede it would not measure up to even a fraction of the annual Coca-Cola marketing budget but say they expect member states to stump up at least the same amounts nationally.

What about the people of Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Greece who will not be in at the start? Governments in these countries are being warned "to contemplate preparing specific messages for their citizens".