New era or new error? How the press played the euro launch

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The Independent Online

Britain

Newspapers in Britain delivered mixed verdicts on the euro yesterday.

The Sun's front page was devoted to what it called: "The dawn of a new error". The 12 European countries participating have taken "a giant leap in the dark" and "thank goodness Britain is not part of it", the newspaper said in a page one editorial.

The Daily Mail called the launch the "great euro gamble" and predicted it means "we'll all pay higher prices" as traders cash in on launch-time confusion to push up prices. The Daily Telegraph said it was a "leap into the unknown". And The Times said Britain would be wise to sit in its ringside seat "for some time".

Some newspapers, however, were more positive. The Mirror wished its readers "a happy new euro" and said: "The future prosperity of the UK is dependent on being part of the euro." An editorial in The Guardian called for eurosceptics and enthusiasts alike to "bury their differences, raise their glasses and wish the euro a long and prosperous life".

France

French newspapers greeted the birth of the currency with enthusiasm and lurid colour diagrams. The conservative daily, Le Figaro, which sometimes flirts with euroscepticism, declared itself in a front-page editorial to be the "Fig-Euro". "Is a little bit of France vanishing today?" it asked. "No, the single currency of the Roman Empire never prevented its peoples from expressing themselves."

The centre-left newspaper Libération filled its front page with a euro symbol made up of euro coins. It also chose a Roman metaphor to describe the day. "The European Union has crossed the rubicon," it said. "No more U-turns are possible on the road to the unification of Europe."

Le Monde, more subtly, had a front-page cartoon by Serguei which showed a two-headed Frenchman weeping over a franc and a euro. The caption read: "Heads or tails".

Ireland

Compacency must be avoided, the Irish Independent said: "So smoothly did the transition go on its first day that one could easily forget its deeper meaning. The citizens handling the new money were taking part in a momentous political occasion."

For The Irish Times, Euro launch day was "a powerful symbol of closer EU integration". But the move raises concerns about a one-size-fits-all interest rate policy, it said: "Both the ECB and the member states will have much to learn in the years ahead about economic management in a single currency area."

And tax harmonisation is likely to come onto the agenda, it said. "The advent of the euro is clearly a landmark in the development of the EU. It will throw other issues relating to the future of Europe into sharp focus."

United States

An article in The New York Times marvelled that the same coins can now be used "to buy a cup of coffee and the morning paper in Amsterdam, Lisbon, Helsinki, Naples, Dublin and Dresden".

The paper assessed the launch as "more than a breathtaking logistical challenge and financial milestone for Europe. It is also a day of great political significance. With euros in circulation, the process of European integration – first championed half a century ago by a visionary French statesman named Jean Monnet – acquires its most potent and tangible symbol".

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