The eusko, the first local currency in Europe
Basque Country The 3 million euskos in circulation since 2013 favor the territory's suppliers and language.
In the Arima Denda store in Biarritz, you can choose between soaps, books, tea towels or ciders, all coming from the Northern Basque Country, the French part, or the Southern Basque Country, the Spanish part. You can also choose your currency. " Our customers, local but not only, regularly pay in eusko, with paper bills or the Euskopay application", says the owner Miren Borgeais. Her store is also one of the 31 exchange offices - one euro being equal to one eusko - of this local currency that was created in 2013. " The local currencies are a concrete tool of social and solidarity economy", explains Xebax Christy, president of the association Euskal Moneta, which counts 4000 members, individuals and 1300 professionals, who are members of the association.who have paid between 5 and 60 euros for an annual subscription (or 2 euros for two months) in this very touristy area.
"Almost all daily expenses can be made in eusko, since it can be used in shops, restaurants, but also to pay the dentist, the accountant and the mechanic or to go to the museum", explains Xebax Christy. More than 3 million euskos, in paper and, since the beginning of 2017, also in digital format, are currently in circulation. This makes this local currency the largest of the 82 listed in France by the Sol Movement. And above all the first local currency in Europe, ahead of the chiemgauer in Germany and the Bristol pound in Great Britain.
"Made in local
Its users not only support the local economy, especially farmers, but also commit themselves to the development of the Basque language, for example through a display in "euskara" created with the Public Office of the Basque Language. Another particularity of this currency is that each member of Euskal Moneta can donate 3% of the amounts exchanged each year to the local association of his choice. The eusko, which is even used as a salary for about thirty local elected officials, is recognized by 34 Basque cities, the last one to adopt it being Biarritz in April.
Such a system is in force in Switzerland and Sardinia and would be a logical complement to the eusko
Xebax Christy, president of the Euskal Moneta association
The Community of Agglomeration of the Basque Country and its 158 municipalities has for its part, recognized the eusko in 2018 and uses it since, for example, to support local sports clubs. It has also just awarded a grant to a research project on the creation of an exchange system, this time cross-border and dedicated to businesses. " Such a system is in force in Switzerland and Sardinia and would be a logical complement to the eusko," says Xebax Christy. According to Euskal Moneta, in order to reuse their euskos, more than half of the professional members have taken on at least one new local supplier. " This means more than 500 new commercial relationships, so less long-distance transport and fewer emissions, " says the president, confident about the development of the eusko, while the time is "made in local" even more than "made in France.