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The conditions for the credibility of the euro are certainly demanding. However, the achievement of these conditions is the aim of all those of us who have responsibilities in relation to the operation of the Eurosystem.

Every currency fulfils three functions : store of value, medium of exchange and unit of account. Concerning the first function (store of value), the euro is used and will increasingly be used as an investment and financing currency by market players, and as a reserve currency by public authorities. Regarding the second function of money (medium of exchange), the euro is used and will increasingly be used as a payment or vehicle currency for the exchange of goods and services and for currency exchange itself. It will also have an official use as an intervention currency. Finally, as regards the third function of any currency (unit of account), the euro is used and will increasingly be used by economic agents as a pricing or quotation currency and as a pegging currency by the authorities responsible for exchange rate issues.

However, even more important than the current figures is the potential for the future development of the euro area, in terms of population and GDP, if and when the so-called "pre-ins" (Denmark, Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom) join the Eurosystem.

We understand that the euro fulfils the necessary conditions to become a leading international currency with the US dollar and not against it. There is enough room for both currencies in the world economy.

Before I begin, I should like to add that it goes without saying that the institutional position of the ECB - and therefore my own official position - concerning Denmark's entry to the euro area is one of strict neutrality. This is an issue which has to be decided by the Danish people, whenever and in whatever way they deem appropriate.