The Total Flop of the Euro

photo: bistro le zodiac

Eating at this bistro might make it your lucky day.

Lunchtime for André At the Copshop

Paris:- Sunday, 28. March 1999:- Last Tuesday Le Parisien decided to tell its readers about the 'Flop of the Euro.' This was in its 12th week of operation for something like 300 million people and it is a failure already.

It is a bit like saying Caesar Augustus was a has-been at the age of three, because he wasn't Emperor yet. The number-one culprit seems to be our banks. They are not playing the euro 'game' fairly. They are simply and coolly ripping us off.

I had a European currency note to change into francs the other day, and the bank's commission was a flat 60 francs. At the end of last year, it was a flat zero; but I will admit the commission might have been buried in the exchange rate.

The Euro Commission in Brussels, before it resigned en masse last week, was snorting about it. They told the banks to 'negotiate' with us. Sure thing! Use a French cheque to buy something in Germany, and you may face 200 francs in charges.

Meanwhile, I've noticed that while catalogues are generally proposingscan: euro flop le parisien prices in francs and euros, it is not clear whether the prices include taxes or not. Before the euro, prices in France had to be quoted 'TTC,' or all taxes included. Since the tax I'm talking about is generally 20.6 percent, not including it is a bit deceptive.

All the other actors party to this drama seem to be deceived also. Nobody is paying their income taxes in euros because the tax people wouldn't accept calculations in the new currency. While a lot of public services, like the SNCF, will accept payment in euros, not many customers are using them.

So far, it is possible to have bank accounts in euros; cheques in euros and plastic in euros. There is no cash in euros yet, and until it physically exists the problems may continue.

In Germany, where use of cheques and plastic are described as 'underdeveloped,' there is even less likelihood of paying in euros, where everybody is quite used to routinely tendering 100 and 200 DM notes for ordinary purchases.

Without being able to have it in the hand, roll it around, see it; the euro may as well be a plugged ruble.

Le Pen Explains Arsenal to Belgians

Last week, Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was having a quiet dinner in Brussels when it was interrupted by three police officers. They asked him if the Peugeot 605 parked outside the restaurant was his.

On the affirmative the police then wanted to know about the loaded shotgun, the 50 .38 caliber bullets, the two bullet-proof vests and the pepper-spray bomb as well as the detachable blue bubble-light, all found in the unlocked trunk.

The club, the radar-detector and the two tear-gas grenades in the front glove box also interested the anti-bandit police. Le Pen's bodyguard's expired gun permit for a .357 magnum was equally interesting. Le Pen's own Eurodeputy identification was elsewhere.

He and his party were asked to 'go downtown' to Brussels' central copshop and it took an hour for a head prosecutor to decide to let them leave. But an assistant prosecutor has asked for his immunity to be lifted so she can ask him a couple of questions. The bodyguard is in trouble for not having a valid gun permit and the driver may be fined for the radar-detector.

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