The Euro: On the Streets - Birth of currency passes Britain by

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The Independent Online
ON THE streets of London yesterday, the only people clued up about the birth of the euro were German tourists.

Despite the acres of coverage given to its launch, few of the people interviewed by The Independent knew what a euro was worth (about 70p), many did not know how many countries had joined (11) and none could name the president of the European Central Bank (Wim Duisenberg).

Asked the value of a euro in sterling, Jas Phull, 42, a businessman, correctly said: "About 1.4". He added: "It will make it easier for trading. I think I understand it fairly well, but I haven't taken too much notice because we haven't joined."

Jane Wildsmith, 24, was not so sure: "I am not keen," she said. "I don't think we know enough about it."

Ben Phillips, 25, from London, works in information technology, servicing banks and financial institutions, and felt Britain might be missing the boat. "We already have such a drive towards harmonisation of markets. Traders don't want to be left behind," he said.

Eike Hoffman and Bastian Stichert, both 24, deftly calculated the conversion from euros to marks and sterling, and were baffled by the UK's reluctanceover the euro. Bastian said: "I can't understand the British."