There are two problems that the European single currency will cause existing systems, the representation of the Euro symbol and currency conversion. The currency conversion poses quite a big problem. The situation is:

Bilateral conversion rates between Eurozone countries are irrevocably fixed from January 1st, 1999.
Currency conversions between states in the 'Eurozone' and those outside, must be done via the triangulation process.
This requires considerable modification of accounting software (very costly).

The problem is of course the triangulation process, this was set out in the 1993 Maastricht treaty as the method for currency conversion. Most accounting software at the moment uses a conversion factor such as 1.60 to convert from Sterling to Dollars for example. The triangulation process differs from this by requiring all currency conversions to go through the Euro first. If for example, a Eurozone country say Germany, wanted to trade with a non-Eurozone country say the UK, the conversion rate between the Deutschmark and the Euro would have been fixed from 01/01/1999. Therefore the amount in Deutschmarks would be converted to Euros first, and then from Euros into Sterling. This has the effect of floating the Euro against currencies outside the Eurozone, rather than the national currencies within it. The reason for doing this is to prevent there being two values for a conversion rate between two Eurozone countries (this is essential, since the rate between any two Eurozone currencies must have been fixed on entry).

As you can see, this is going to require considerable modifications to existing accounting software. Many packages purchased off-the-shelf, will probably have modifications available, however, proprietary software will need fixing at considerable cost. The total cost of the conversion is estimated at around 100 billion Belgian Francs.

In addition to the problem of the currency conversions, there is also the problem of actually reproducing the Euro symbol, shown below:

Many systems will not support this. The European commission has agreed on the key presses that shall be used in particular countries to produce the Euro symbol, these are listed below. If the key press for your particular country fails to produce the expected Euro symbol, you'll need to download a patch.

Keyboard Layout Key press sequence
United Kingdom AltGr & 4
Republic of Ireland AltGr & 4
European Union AltGr & E
US International AltGr & 5
Hungary AltGr & U
Poland AltGr & U
Latvia AltGr & E
Latvia - QWERTY AltGr & 4
Others Alt & 0128 on Numeric Keypad

The following should give you an idea of the level of support:

Current Support
Windows 98
Windows NT 5
Windows CE 2.1
Support via patches
Windows 95 (2.2Mb download)
Windows NT 4 via SP4
Not supported (by Microsoft)
MSDOS/Win 3.1.x (3rd party support will be available).

So there you have it. The Euro, on it's way very soon indeed. It'll be interesting to see how the computer industry copes with this one!

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