Europe eh? We're part of it, but then again, we're not. We like holidays there, but as a nation we're not ready to get naked and leap into bed with them yet. At least not until the UK government gets enough EU contraception to dull the risk of abandoning sovereignty. The ditherings of the current government, and the former, are about as decisive on Europe as Gareth Southgate on the penalty spot. This is a problem. While IT managers are fretting and fainting at the thought of Year 2000 systems compliance, many have forgotten the money issue. The Euro currency is going to cause havoc whether the UK joins the single currency or not. You see, by 2000 the Euro will start circulating and will replace all other legal tender as the de facto currency in member states by 2002 - this includes vital UK markets like Germany and France, for instance. The Euro is not just another currency, it's an unknown entity in that it's completely new and has a whole set of new rules. Current dual currency systems can't hack the Euro yet. But, in order to do business, computer systems are going to have to be updated to deal with Euros, otherwise UK companies are not going to able to do business properly with the new Europe. Not being up to date with the Euro can affect all aspects of a business, from marketing and IT to legal, purchasing and accounting strategies and practices. The other little hindrance - as if you thought this would be easy - is that the European Commission (EC) has botched getting the final rules sorted, so even if you want to get a headstart, you have to use what's there and hope the EC doesn't change it. Last week, the Computer Software and Services Association (CSSA) sounded the alert by publishing a paper to help companies worried about the impact of the Euro. Although, according to a Gartner report last July, 60% of European IT professionals hadn't a clue what the monetary union process was, and only 7% had some idea of what to do. Considering the government hasn't done squat to warn IT or business managers yet, you'll have to do the work yourselves. If you don't, getting your products in to Europe through piles of rotting vegetables, carcasses and hairy French lorry drivers will be the least of your problems.
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