PRESS RELEASE

Preparations for the changeover weekend

3 November 1998

The Governing Council today concluded its discussions concerning the preparations for the so-called "changeover weekend", the period of time between the publication of the proposal by the European Commission of the irrevocable conversion rates for the euro, on the afternoon of 31 December 1998, and the opening of the financial markets, on the morning of 4 January 1999.

During this period of three and a half days, those public and private institutions which will subsequently commence operating in euro in the financial markets will be confronted with the complex task of modifying a very large number of electronic records under very severe time constraints, before markets in euro open for trading on 4 January 1999. Managing the logistics of this will require a great effort on the part of the banking and financial industry, including the ECB and the NCBs.

In the ECB and the NCBs the final migration of the electronic systems will take up a sizeable proportion of staff resources and many staff members will be working during that weekend, while the members of the decision-making bodies will be on hand to take any measures considered necessary. Reducing the technical risks of the final migration to the euro forms part of the ECB's duties. The ESCB started its preparations for the changeover weekend a long time ago. The ECB and the NCBs will be in a position to deliver their entire complex infrastructure to the markets by the morning of 4 January 1999.

The Governing Council has set up a "Changeover Weekend Committee" which will organise the monitoring of developments vis-à-vis the final migration to the euro within the ECB and the NCBs and in the banking and financial industry, both prior to and during the changeover weekend.

The ECB expects the banking and financial community in the euro area to be fully aware of the logistical challenge that the changeover weekend represents and that careful preparation is required. Reference could be made to the adaptation of large-value payment systems, the impact of the redenomination of securities on securities settlement systems and the conversion of databases of providers of financial information. The ECB is conscious of the concerns of some market practitioners and is therefore preparing to work together with other public authorities to orchestrate the necessary policy responses to any unexpected events which may occur in the banking and financial industry during the changeover weekend.

Further information may be requested from the ECB, at the following address:

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