European Commission President Romano Prodi has stood by his description of the pact underpinning the euro as ""stupid,"" despite a flurry of comments in defense of the budget rules and a call for his resignation.
BRUSSELS, Belgium ? If the launch of the European single currency in 1999 demanded political will, its physical introduction will require brawn from the moment of unveiling last week of the actual notes and coins. A dozen European countries started moving mountains of the currency to banks Saturday in preparation for January 1, 2002, the day when their 300 million citizens will have their first day-to-day dealings with the single currency. Just shifting the 50 billion euro coins will be like moving two Eiffel Towers for each member of the euro zone, and then there are the 14.5 billion brand new bank notes to worry about. As if that weren't enough, national currencies will have to be withdrawn from circulation in the New Year, an operation that will be overseen by the European Central Bank and national central banks but carried out on the ground by police, the army and security firms.