The final announcement is only two months away: Which member countries of the European Union (EU) will formally adopt the new, singular currency system known as the euro? At press time, all countries had confirmed except Denmark and the United Kingdom.
The familiar attitudes behind this monumental transformation range from pro (it will bring monetary stability and simplify taxes between the nations) to con (it will result in real-wage reductions and inhibit a smoothly functioning labor market). Despite that, the changeover is set to go. Next up? On January 1, 1999, all participating countries will officially adopt the euro and jointly embrace the European Central Bank as their sole monetary authority. Of course, full integration is not expected for a few years.
This historical occurrence is sure to captivate global attention. According to the Standard Chartered Bank in London, the EU, whose population numbers 350 million, today holds title as the world's largest market--and accounts for more than 20 percent of all international trade. And while consolidating 15 currencies into one is unarguably an enormous undertaking, most experts agree the transition shouldn't negatively impact the economies of the United States or other countries around the world.