Costly, but cosy Copenhagen still looks to Europe
Copenhagen is costly, but to great effect. Spend a bit, drink a bit and you'll end up enjoying a tradition of companionship, cosiness and conviviality. But Danes aren't inward-looking. They've stuck with their national currency, though many still favour regional integration.
Arriving in Copenhagen can be a nostalgic experience, even if you've never been there before. Travelling to the Danish capital from a eurozone country, you are taken back to the days before the January 1 2002 switch to euro notes and coins. Danish krone notes are larger and crisper than their euro counterparts. Their swirling geometric designs are printed in deeper, richer and brighter colours – mauve, orange, dark green and royal blue. They carry portraits of national heroes. They feel like francs, pesetas, liras, marks, or guilders.
When you break a note to pay a taxi-driver or shopkeeper, your change is a handful of chunky bronze coins. Stamped on them are the trustworthy features of Queen Margrethe II, regally reassuring you that your money is immune from rows about rebates and referendums.
When Denmark held its own referendum on the euro in September 2000, the mainstream political consensus was that membership was desirable and inevitable. The Confederation of Danish Industry and the Copenhagen Stock Exchange supported the view that Denmark should adopt the euro at some point. Danish trade unions argued that a rejection of the single currency would cost 35,000 jobs. But more than 53% of those who turned out voted to keep the krone.