Growing belief that euro led to price hikes - poll


Euro-zone citizens are growing more convinced that the switch to euro cash led to price hikes, and dissatisfaction with the single currency is growing in Germany, according to a poll yesterday.

The European Commission's latest Eurobarometer survey, published 100 days after new euro notes and coins began circulating, shows 74 per cent believe the changeover meant prices were converted to consumers' disadvantage. A breakdown showed the feeling was strongest in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Ireland.

That is not only up from the 67 per cent reported earlier this year but it is also higher than the proportion who feared abuse and cheating on prices in November 2001, ahead of the switch to euro cash.

This view has become more entrenched even though the European Union statistics office has estimated the swap to euro notes and coins boosted prices in January by 0.16 percentage points at most.

Germans are also becoming more dissatisfied now that the euro has replaced the deutschmark, with 49 per cent unhappy that the euro is now their national currency, a rise of nearly 10 percentage points since the start of this year, the poll said.

The euro zone's largest economy is the only member of the bloc where people expect to encounter more disadvantages than advantages as a result of the euro's introduction.

In the euro zone as a whole, 65 per cent are happy the euro was introduced, down 2 per cent from January. The highest levels of satisfaction were to be found in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy.

More than four out of five euro-zone citizens feel the euro changeover was smooth and successful.

The survey showed more than half of euro-zone citizens are still using defunct national currencies as at least one of their reference points when buying things. A breakdown showed Germans, Italians and the Dutch are most likely to count mentally in their national currency when making purchases while the Irish and the Greeks were most likely to use the euro as their only reference. - (Reuters)