EU officials move, slowly, to tackle Year 2000 problem

UK government leaders are attempting to organise an international effort to tackle the 'year 2000 problem', but not all European Union officials are equally informed.

UK government leaders are attempting to organise an international effort to tackle the "year 2000 problem", but not all European Union officials are equally informed, according to EU spokesmen.

Even though the issue has been widely reported in both the trade and general press, Industry and Telecommunications Commissioner Martin Bangemann told journalists last week that he had never heard of the problem until Ian Taylor, the UK Minister for Science and Technology, raised it.

"Unless we all act now there will be international chaos. Many computer systems will crash and fail because their two digit calendars will not recognise the new millennium's date -- represented as zero-zero -- or treat it as 1900," says Taylor.

Taylor foresees that computer systems' inability to handle the date change could "eliminate people from waiting lists, take them off pension lists, indicate that stocks are out of date (by 100 years), or suddenly credit bank accounts with 100 years of interest payments."

He hopes that at some later council session, national ministers will come back and collectively discuss what they are doing to resolve the problem.

Commissioner Bangemann told journalists that he would hold talks with national and industry experts to examine the problem.

In the UK, Taylor has asked every government department to prepare action plans for the date change. In addition the minister has also already asked senior executives in British industry and at the Bank of England to discuss possible action.

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