The European Union is now in the final phase of a journey into Economic and Monetary Union which began more than ten years ago. Monetary Union became a reality on 1 January 1999; since then the euro has been the currency of eleven Member States according to the blueprint laid down by the Treaty of European Union. The three year transition period will end at midnight on 31 December 2001.
From 1 January 2002 banks will issue only euro notes and coins. Member States will make their best efforts to ensure that the bulk of cash transactions will be made in euro by the end of a fortnight from 1 January, and by the beginning of March 2002 the withdrawal of national notes and coins should be complete.
Preparing for this is a formidable challenge. It calls for a sustained and concentrated communication campaign so that all actors can meet it successfully. If the principle of subsidiarity means that the main responsibility for communicating on the euro lies with Member States, there is still a substantial Community dimension too : the purpose of this Communication is to update the priorities and strategy of such a campaign, and to confirm the commitment of the Commission.