Swedish mayor wants to abolish the kronor

20.12.01 @ 09:18

  1. By Luise Hemmer Pihl

In Northern Scandinavia, Swedish and Norwegian border towns prepare for Finland's introduction of the euro, writes Norwegian paper Aftenposten. The mayor of Haparanda in northern Sweden wants to make the euro the official currency of his town, but this is not possible according to the Swedish constitution.

At the Northernmost point of the Gulf of Bothnia are situated the twin towns of Haparanda on the Swedish side of the border river, Torneälv, and immediately on the other side of the border you find the Finnish town of Tornio. The two towns have always been closely connected, except during the period 1809-1918, when Finland was a grand duchy under the Russian empire.

Today, the two towns have an extensive co-operation, even sharing schools and a labour exchange. Many people pass the border every day to work or shop, and in order to facilitate everyday life, Bengt Westmann, mayor of Haparanda, apply for permission to make the euro the official currency of his town, according to Danish paper Information.

"We co-operate in so many areas that life would be easier if we operated with the same currency," he says. The Swedish side of the border has problems getting enough labour, and the mayor wants to attract more Finnish labour to the Swedish part of "Eurocity", as the area is popularly called, because it is an instance of the "euregio" regional EU policy.

Also, the "weak" Swedish kronor attracts many Finnish shoppers to Haparanda, and the shops currently price their goods in three currencies: Finnish marks, Swedish kronor and euro. After 1 January, the tags will carry only two figures, phasing out the Finnish mark, which will, however, still be accepted by Finnish banks for ten years to come.

Mayor Westmann is convinced that the Swedes will vote Yes to the euro in the coming referendum but adds that the referendum is not likely to come during the next five years.

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