Greeks move quickly to adopt their new currency

Greeks are among the Europeans who have taken up the new single currency to the greatest extent in the first week of its circulation, the European Commission said yesterday. On Thursday, more than 50 percent of commercial transactions were conducted exclusively in euros. The Bank of Greece said that the drachma was being withdrawn just as quickly in the equally challenging task to pull national currencies from circulation. «Our compatriots are in a hurry to get rid of their drachmas,» a senior central bank official told Kathimerini yesterday. According to the European Commission, the Netherlands are in first place, with 75 percent of transactions being conducted in euros. It is followed by Germany, Luxembourg and Greece. The euro was involved in 25 percent of commercial transactions in France, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Spain and Portugal, while Italy was bringing up the rear. With regard to the supply of euros from automated-teller machines, 100 percent of Greek ATMs were expected to be providing euros yesterday, along with those of Germany, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. The haste with which people are paying for goods in national currencies and receiving euros in change has caused a problem in the supply of euro coins in many countries, as there is a great outflow of the new currency with relatively little of it coming in to company tills. This prompted the Commission yesterday to urge consumers to exchange their national currencies for euros at banks rather than in shops. Commissioner Pedro Solbes’s spokesman, Gerasimos Thomas, said that the effort was now focused on central banks providing banknotes of 5 and 10 euros to commercial banks to pass on to shops.

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