OPINION

Euro assimilation?

Just when we thought the «euro committee» (set up nine months ago to monitor the launch of the new currency) had been scrapped after little evidence of activity, we are told it is actually very much alive and kicking! Indeed, it convened earlier this week to determine how to react to recent price hikes and profiteering, the public confusion over the relevance of the new currency, and how to help citizens finally stop calculating in drachmas and to understand the significance of a 15-cent price hike or cut. It took us a while to realize that those «worthless» 20-cent pieces (like the 20 drachma coins we once ridiculed) are actually worth 70 drachmas each… But let’s face it, the blame for a recent spate of blatant profiteering cannot be attributed to the problems of adapting to the new currency and its several sub-denominations. This seems like a convenient excuse for merchants and state finance officials. The truth is that the euro provided the latter with the perfect opportunity for a series of price hikes. We have reached the point where there are hardly any products that cost less than one euro, and prices appear to be rising with alarming regularity. Indeed, a gas station advertising lead-free petrol for 0.755 euros one week, after selling it at 0.735 euros, does not provoke outrage because the difference is unremarkable (we are not jarred as the 0.7 remains unchanged). But the difference of those two little cents is the equivalent of a seven-drachma hike that would have frayed our nerves in the pre-euro days…