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Emu on track

It's the political wranglings over Emu that hit the headlines, but behind the scenes capital markets are rapidly preparing for the advent of the euro. After 1999, euro-denominated securities markets seem set for explosive growth. By Graham Bishop.

Life under the euro

The political leaders of the European Union are close to being prisoners of the momentum towards European monetary and economic union that they have stimulated. Those who believe progress hinges on Emu aspirants achieving "three point zero" budget deficits may be unaware of the accelerating preparations that would be thrown into disarray - probably irretrievably - were there to be delay. The implications for capital markets are crystallizing since the preparations already being made will shape their final form.

The Maastricht Treaty was signed in December 1991 and finally came into force at the end of 1993 after a rather difficult ratification process. Some observers felt that its ratification would, ironically, mark its death. However, a treaty is a set of legal obligations and public officials are obliged to implement the expressed will of their political masters. In 1994, the European Commission set up a committee of independent experts (chaired by Cees Maas) to consider how the changeover should be organized during the succeeding five years and momentum began to build. The Maas committee report was an input to an EC green paper that appeared in the summer of 1995.

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