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Business

Europe Goes Euro

Three weeks after being introduced as Europe’s common currency, the euro is enjoying an overwhelming acceptance, so much so in fact that Sweden is considering joining the euro-zone.

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Opposition to the euro is thawing out in northern Europe

According to the European Central Bank (ECB) the euro accounts for more than 90 percent of the money circulating in Europe.

In an interview with the German "Börsen-Zeitung" from Saturday, the ECB General Director Francesco Papadia admitted that the euro had been more quickly adopted as a sole currency than previously expected.

The schedule for 100 percent usage in Europe is far ahead of the March deadline. In fact, the switch to the new currency was nearly complete after just two weeks, Papadia said.

In Germany, the initial skepticism of the euro quickly faded once the new bills and coins appeared on the market. Approximately 63 percent of the consumers are now in favor of the euro, said the German Sunday paper, "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung". At the beginning of December the number of pro-euro Germans was only 33 percent.

Expanding the euro-zone

Such statistics are of special interest in Sweden, where a majority of the population is eager to join the 12 member countries in the euro-zone.

The Swedish daily "Dagens Nyheter" reported on Saturday that 53 percent of the Swedes want their country to sign up for the European Union’s single currency. The newspaper quoted a poll conducted January 14-17 by the Temo research institute in which only 33 percent of the Swedes questioned said "no" to the euro.

The euro poll is the first Swedish opinion survey since the launch of the euro on January 1. A previous Temo poll from October showed that the pro-euro Swedes only outnumbered the opponents by a hair: 43-42 percent.

Let the people decide

Sweden, like Britain and Denmark, elected to remain on the sidelines when their fellow EU member states exchanged their national currencies for the euro. They wanted to watch the action first, and decide later based on the overall acceptance.

The three countries have said they would let their people decide by referendum whether or not they should adopt the euro.

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, who is personally in favor of adopting the euro, has outlined a timetable for when Sweden will hold its referendum. The spring of 2003 is the earliest date.

If the Swedes vote yes on the euro, Sweden would enter the monetary union in 2005.

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