HSFR: Y2k & G8 Summit (Bill Clinton / Tony Blair)

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~ From Radio Free Europe ~

Europe: Millennium Bug On Agenda Of G8 Summit

By Stuart Parrott

London, 10 February 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The danger posed by the Millennium Bug, which threatens to cause computers to malfunction from 2000 unless remedial action is taken, is to be put on the formal agenda of the next G8 summit in Britain in May.

The decision to place the issue before leaders of the eight top industrialized nations was reportedly taken in talks last week between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Experts say the Millennium Bug could trigger a global recession because it could cause a breakdown in industries such as power, railways and telecommunications, and cause chaos to financial transactions including payment of pensions and welfare benefits.

There are fears that airline computers, traffic lights, hospital equipment and safety systems will not function properly.

The problems have already begun. In the U.S., a supermarket chain rejected a supply of tinned beef because the sell-by date was past 2000; in France, shops are having difficulties with bank and credit cards with expiry dates falling in 2000.

Blair has put the problem high on the agenda of Britain's six-month presidency of the EU, saying he is "shocked" at the lack of preventive measures by small and medium-sized businesses, and that the problem "is larger and more urgent than people realize."

He is reported to have agreed with Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok that the problem should be discussed in depth at a "roundtable conference" of European industrial leaders in Britain in May.

One source close to Blair was quoted this week as saying that the "Millennium Bug" could knock two percent off the national income of all G8 countries in 2000, at a cost of many billions of dollars.

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-- Bill (billdale@lakesnet.net), March 13, 1998

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