PRESS RELEASE

The euro cash changeover is progressing smoothly in all euro area countries

2 January 2002

On 1 January 2002, the euro banknotes and coins were successfully introduced in the 12 countries of the euro area.

Around EUR 134 billion were frontloaded amounting to approx. 50 % of the national banknote circulation at the end of 2001.

As expected, the vast majority of automated teller machines (ATMs) started distributing euro banknotes from the very first minutes of 1 January. By the end of the day, more than 80% of ATMs in the euro area were dispensing euro banknotes, and this even reached 100% in some of the 12 countries, namely Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In most countries, a very high demand for euro banknotes was registered and withdrawals from ATMs reached exceptional levels, in some countries up to four times the average figure for 1 January.

Prof. Eugenio Domingo Solans, member of the Governing Council and the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), declared "the euro cash changeover is going smoothly, even better than we had expected. Now, in addition to the ATMs retailers are playing a key role in this process. In order to facilitate transactions during the first business days of the year, I would like to invite the public to avoid making mixed payments, that is paying an amount partly in euro and partly in national currency". He went on to add "small amounts should be paid, as far possible, with the exact money and the use of high denomination national banknotes should be avoided".

In order to keep the media and the general public informed about the progress of the euro changeover, a communication programme consisting of daily press releases until 11 January and weekly press releases until 25 January was launched by the ECB on 28 December.

For further information on the euro cash changeover, please visit the ECB's website at http://www.ecb.europa.eu and the Euro 2002 Information Campaign website at http://www.euro.ecb.int.

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