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                   Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport

 7 June 2000
of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport
for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs
on the communication from the Commission on communications strategy in the
last phases of the completion of EMU
(COM(2000) 57 - C5-0104/2000 - 2000/2019(COS))
Draftsman: Ole Andreasen

The Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport appointed
Ole Andreasen draftsman at its meeting of 28 March 2000.
It considered the draft opinion at its meetings of 25 May and 6 June 2000.
At the last meeting it adopted the amendments with 3 votes against.
The following were present for the vote: Giuseppe Gargani, chairman; Vasco
Graça Moura, Ulpu Iivari, vice-chairman; Ole Andreasen, draftsman; Pedro
Aparicio Sánchez, Per-Arne Arvidsson for (Christopher Heaton-Harris), Ruth
Hieronymi, Pietro-Paolo Mennea, Jens Dyhr Okking, Barbara O'Toole, Doris
Pack, Roy James Perry, Christa Prets, Mónica Ridruejo, The Earl of Stockton
(for Sabine Zissener), Kathleen Van Brempt, Luckas Vander Taelen, Eurig Wyn,
Teresa Zabell Lucas and Myrsini Zorba (for Martine Roure).

With two years to go before national currencies are due to disappear, the
Commission has seen fit to state categorically what has been done so far and
what remains to be done to facilitate the changeover to the euro. To press
ahead with its campaign to inform the public, but also the businesses and
organisations which in various ways will be required to bear the costs of
the introduction of the single currency, the Commission has adopted a
communication on the subject. The information campaign on the euro, which
has already begun its passage through the institutions, is part of a broader
European Union strategy to inform the public of the major processes under
way at European level. The success of the strategy should ensure a greater
understanding of what is occurring in the three main sectors of European
integration: the introduction of the euro as the single currency, the
enlargement of the Union to include the 'first wave' of applicant countries
and the reform of the Community institutions to cater for the accession of
new Member States. The broad lines of the Commission's overall strategy were
set out at the beginning of the year, but a document laying down political
guidelines is shortly to be adopted on which the European Parliament will be
required to give its opinion.

To return to the question of the euro, it can be seen that, as usual, the
Community procedures involved go back a long way. The information campaign
on the single currency was actually launched by the European Union following
a Commission communication on the information strategy for the euro adopted
in January 1998. This in turn was drawn up on the basis of the 1995 Green
Paper, which launched a wide-ranging debate on the subject throughout

The campaign was launched with financial support from the Community budget
as part of the Prince programme with the basic support of the governments of
the states concerned. The campaign was targeted directly not only at the
general public but at small and medium-sized undertakings, local and
regional authorities, civil servants and third countries. In 1999 the
Commission signed 13 agreements with the 11 countries of the euro zone plus
Switzerland and Greece, with overall funding of around EUR 20 million, which
has been used to finance the production of CD-ROMs and brochures for schools
or the general public and for the organisation of conferences, participation
in exhibitions, and so on.

The phases in the changeover to the euro have, of course, been clearly
established. Formally introduced from January 1999, the euro will enter into
circulation with effect from 2002 and the states have undertaken to keep to
a minimum the period during which it will coexist with national currencies.
On March 2002 therefore the latter could be finally withdrawn. All citizens
will then be faced with a fait accompli, even in those European countries
remaining outside the euro, namely, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark,
where a referendum on the subject is due to be held in September 2000. The
Commission believes that citizens are still largely unaware of the closeness
of the date, although attitudes are for the most part positive. 68% of the
population is in favour and only 26% against, but only slightly over 50%
believe they are sufficiently informed. In addition, it seems that small and
medium-sized enterprises are taking the event too lightly . Information
activities therefore need to be stepped up. The Commission is proposing that
the campaign during the year 2000 be targeted on this sector, while
continuing to provide a steady flow of information to the general public.
From 2001 to the end of 2002 the information campaign on the euro should
focus both on small businesses and the general public, including its more
vulnerable sectors (the elderly, disabled, etc.). With reference to
activities geared towards businesses, the Commission will operate through
the Euro Info Centres, focusing on retailers, tourist enterprises and
enterprises in peripheral areas. The Commission will hold a round table in
the first half of 2000 to draw up a list of practical issues relating to the
changeover to the single currency. Tourists will probably be among the first
users of the euro in third countries and the Commission is therefore
planning to produce a special guide to the single currency for tourists. All
Community initiatives in this field will continue to be financed from the
Prince programme (information programme for the European citizen), which
covers all European campaigns. In order to carry out these measures, closer
coordination will be needed between the information offices of the European
institutions, while further synergies will also have to be established
upstream and downstream of the information process, with regard to the
different tasks and different roles to be earmarked for national and
regional institutions, communications media, associations and businesses.


The Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport calls on the
Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committee responsible, to
incorporate the following points in its motion for a resolution:

1. Notes the Commission's desire to step up the information campaign on the
euro and is convinced that if the euro is properly introduced in 2002 this
will bring the concept of European citizenship closer to the public, while
eagerly awaiting the communication on the European Union's information
policy announced in the Commission's work programme for the year 2000;

2. Calls on the Commission, when carrying out the advertising and
information campaign, to take account of the fact that large parts of the
population continue to be sceptical about the common currency;

3. Calls on the Commission, the European Central Bank and the Member States
to combine their efforts to jointly fund the communication project for the

4. Endorses the aim of devoting greater attention to small and medium-sized
enterprises during the year 2000 and focusing more closely on the general
public ("the citizen in the street") during 2001; calls on the information
campaign to be extended to the end of 2002 and beyond if necessary;

5. Supports the Commission in its intention to devote particular attention
to target groups which require special help, in particular the socially
disadvantaged, the elderly, persons with physical or mental disabilities,
illiterates and the poorly educated because these groups need most
assistance; for the same reason wants the 'Euro Made Easy' Community project
to be implemented and all Member States to tackle the training and
mobilisation of people (social workers, social services officers and
trainers) to help these vulnerable people; this requires close cooperation
with organisations in close contact with these risk groups;

6. Recognises the importance which the Commission attaches to young people
of school age; it is therefore essential to develop specific initiatives for
such young people with a view to the introduction of the euro which must be
an integral part of the educational package and educational resources;

7. Asks the Commission to ensure that Community funding is genuinely focused
on  measures with a strong multiplier effect involving as far as possible
existing structures  linked to the European Community such as the Euro Info
Centres and business and  professional associations (lawyers, notaries,
business consultants, etc.) that have ties  with them;

8. Considers that the above mentioned  sectors should be extended to include
organisations representing cultural, youth and sports associations, which
play a very important role in acting as multipliers and disseminating
information; special attention should be paid to campaign involving students
and teachers as well as elderly people;

9. Calls on the Commission to set up the guidelines and to delegate the
tasks and means to the Member States - to the  regional and local levels -
in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, in order to take account of
European cultural diversities and linguistic differences and to balance,
compare ("best practices") and combine as far as possible initiatives in the
field of technical and practical information on the euro with opportunities
for dialogue between citizens, businesses and the European institutions;

10. Welcomes the fact that the Commission's information campaign also takes
account of the fact that the public need to be confident that they are not
cheated when prices are converted; calls on the Commission to table specific
proposals based on best practices and to encourage national, regional and
local authorities to establish local reporting centres where anyone can
report any abuse such as unwarranted price increases;

11. Considers that, in order to build up public confidence in the euro,
communication measures should be promoted through all media based on the
latest information technologies (Internet and free-call telephone) and
advertising techniques, alongside national and regional initiatives. The
communication should be factual and not propagandist.