Greeks lead in switch to the euro

Euro notes and coins accounted for more than half of commercial transactions in the 12-nation eurozone by Friday, the European Commission said on Saturday. «It is 80 percent or more in use in two countries (Greece and the Netherlands), ranges from 50 percent to 65 percent in six countries… and is between 25 percent and 50 percent in the others,» a Commission statement said, referring to Belgium, France, Italy and Spain in the latter case. The Commission said in a statement that shops and large stores still had fairly long lines, but banks had fared less well as people rushed to exchange smaller sums of their old national currency for euros. «In a mere four days, only three of which were working days, the euro has become the main currency used by the European public to make cash payments,» it said. The Athens News Agency quoted the Bank of Greece as saying that more than 1.3 billion euros worth of drachmas had been withdrawn from circulation on Friday, implying that, at this rate, the national currency will disappear by the last week of January.

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