A small Swedish town at the northernmost tip of the Gulf of Bothnia, Haparanda is right next door to Tornio, which happens to be in Finland. And because Sweden has opted to keep the krona as its currency, while Finland has dumped the markka in favor of the euro, residents of Haparanda may see their fortunes rise and fall with exchange rate fluctuations whenever they venture across the park that marks the border between the two countries.
Haparanda Mayor Bengt Westman, 53, has offered to give village workers - many of whom live or shop in Tornio - the choice of being paid and taxed in either euros or kronor. "We thought it was only just, considering that our shops accept euros [as well as kronor] and a large proportion of residents' expenses are in euros," says Westman.
But the Svenska Kommunförbundet, a lobbying group for Sweden's municipalities, has declared that Westman's proposal would violate that country's equality laws: Village workers could end up receiving different pay for the same job, depending on how the krona is faring against the euro. "We'll just have to accept our fate and remain a town of foreign exchange traders," sighs Westman.