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EU: 12 Countries Begin To Use Euro Currency

Brussels, 2 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Today is the first normal business day in which euro coins and notes will be used in the 12 European Union countries that have abandoned their national money and adopted the new currency. EU officials say few problems were reported as the euro officially became legal cash on New Year's Day in the biggest financial changeover in history.

But as many businesses were closed for the holiday, today is be the first real chance to observe the euro being used for ordinary financial transactions by the more than 300 million people in the euro-zone.

Reports say the situation could become complicated in France and Italy, where bank workers have threatened to strike.

The Yugoslav territories of Kosovo and Montenegro are among non-EU entities that have also adopted the euro.

Three EU countries -- Britain, Denmark and Sweden -- have opted not to join the euro for now.