The year has started under the banner of the euro, this epochal event which is exteriorly turning into a nagging bombardment of information. We continuously receive real-time updates on how many ATMs dispense the new bank-notes, the percentages of transactions in euros, the queues of cars at highway toll gates due to the use (or rather, failure to use) the new notes and coins, the stern comments of monetary authorities on any delays in the circulation of the new currency, and a carousel of figures: 10%, 20%, 50%…. We rank last in the European Union in the time score for the introduction of the euro – not surprisingly! This performance fits in well with our national characteristics, as exemplified by the fact that the closing date of the census has already been postponed thrice. Is our delay in familiarising with the new notes and coins truly alarming? Probably not, apart from a few blatant episodes. It is a less aggressive, more relaxed way of living a new reality which – let’s not forget – has two months available to consolidate itself. It will be the large systems – banks, the postal service, public institutions, the large distribution system – that will force us to get used to the new currency: let us enjoy these last few lire in peace, going to the news-stand with 1700 lire to by our daily newspaper. What scares me, on the contrary, is the more or less overt attempt to pass off a number of increases in prices and rates as due to the euro: this is something everybody – large and small – seems to be taking advantage of. In Milan, for example, the price of public transport tickets has been “rounded off” from 1500 lire to 1 euro (with an increase of over 30%), while the mineral water delivery man points out that the normal amount you used to pay is no longer adequate, adding “You know, with the euro…”. In converting the cost of advertisements into euros, Job in Tourism has intended to make a small contribution to debunking the need for price increases to compensate for the passage to the euro. We have converted our fees from 70,000 lire to 36 euros and from 30,000 liras to 15 euros. We are not generous: we just mean to be fair.
Year starts under euro banner
Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 1 Gennaio 2002