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Press Release: Brussels, 15th December 2001 (European Public Awareness Unit)
The Dublin Summit of the European Union reached agreement in December 1996 on a number of key issues relating to the planned European currency unit. There remains concern that, once again, it avoided any attempt to focus debate on the name to be given to the smaller unit of that currency. This will be the equivalent of the centime, the pfenning, and the penny.
The name of the unit seems to have remained a closely guarded secret despite the multi-million ECU campaign recently launched to prepare the European public for the transition to the Euro. Some commentators have however suggested that it will rapidly become difficult to purchase anything with the smaller unit. Any new name would then become as irrelevant as the English "farthing". In a transition period, they believe that individual countries will therefore be free to name the smaller unit as they have always done.
The debate that preceded acceptance of the name "Euro" was lengthy and acrimonious. The French were strongly in favour of "Ecu". There is suspicion in informed quarters that final French acceptance of "Euro" may have been ensured by a compromise on the naming of the smaller unit. It is possible that the smaller unit may therefore be called a "centime", although this is expected to arouse strong opposition in some countries.
The attitude of the public in the UK on this matter is considered politically explosive, given the current situation of the Conservative government with regard to Europe. Reaction to any name based on "cent" is expected to be strong. Some sources have suggested that in order to placate the British, who have grown used to referring to the penny unit as a "pee", a truly European compromise is being sought. This would retain some of the French phonetics of "centime" but preserve the essential significance traditionally attached by the British to the smaller unit. The compromise name, rumoured to be one feature of the European campaign, is the "Eurine".
Eurine is easily pronounced in most European languages. Its linguistic root is also common to many of them. Green parties are expected to give strong support to the new name. This is because it suggests to them the future possibility of a unit of currency based on environmentally significant processes, rather than on artificial standards.
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