Entry of Estonia into the euro area

The entry of Estonia into the euro area is planned for 1 January 2011, bringing to 17 the number of member countries of the area. Europeans will then be 330 million to use the same currency.

The euro was created in 1999 when 11 countries irrevocably locked the bilateral exchange rates of their currencies and equipped themselves with a single monetary and exchange rate policy managed by the European Central Bank. Greece joined them in 2001 and in 2002 euro banknotes and coins were introduced thus making the euro a tangible reality in everyday life. Slovenia was the first of the countries that joined the EU in 2004 to adopt the common currency (on 1 January 2007), followed by Cyprus and Malta on 1 January 2008 and by Slovakia on 1 January 2009.

Jürgen Ligi, Minister of Finance of Estonia and Pille Vaher, Head of Media Section of the European Commission in Estonia

Just as the other Member States that introduced the euro after 2002 (but unlike the ‘first wave’ euro area members), Estonia decided to put euro banknotes and coins into circulation on the same day as the euro becomes the country’s official currency. This is known as the ‘big-bang’ scenario.

There will however be a dual circulation period of two weeks, starting on 1 January 2011, during which the two currencies will circulate alongside each other in order to allow for a gradual withdrawal of Estonian kroons. The irrevocable exchange rate between the two currencies is 1 EUR= 15.6466 EEK. In order to make it easier for consumers to get used to the new scale of monetary values, prices must be displayed both in kroons and euro as from 1 July 2010 until 30 June 2011.

Some 194 million euro coins (with the Estonian national side) and some 45 million banknotes are needed in order to introduce the euro in cash.

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