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Germany Readies for Euro Transition - 2002-01-01

One of the most ambitious currency changeovers in history starts Tuesday, as 12 Western European nations adopt the new euro currency.

Trier is a small city that is frequently filled with tourists who want to stroll through the streets and lanes of one of the oldest cities in Europe. Monday was a day of post-Christmas shopping, and people seemed to be ready for the euro. "I'm happy that we get the euro because when we visit other countries, for example, we can pay in euro and we don't have to change the money," says one citizen. "We have one currency in Europe, that's good. We are in the future 250 million people in [the European Union] with one money in their hands and which makes economically more economic power.

Being at the center of historical change is nothing new for Trier. Its monuments range from the town gate of blackened sandstone built by the Romans, to the house where Communist revolutionary Karl Marx was born in 1818.

The 12-nation euro zone includes an estimated 300-million people. The euro is being adopted in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

The people of Trier are accustomed to visitors from nearby Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, but they hope that the new currency will encourage citizens from other EU countries to pay a visit. After all, they won't have to worry about changing their money.