January 2009: Euro in Slovakia and Euro turns 10!

In a few days, Euro will be adopted by Slovakia. It will be also the date of the 10th anniversary of Euro in Europe. From this moment, 328.6 million of citizens will have Euro, Slovakia will be the 16th country to access to this 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. The European Central Bank was created six months earlier. The banknotes and coins were introduced in 2002. Slovakia will adopt it at a rate of 30.1260 Slovak koruna to the euro. Before it, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta also made the euro their money.

The euro has been a great success. Overall and notwithstanding the present challenging times, it has delivered greater price stability and lower interest rates than ever before for the countries, people and businesses that share it. It helped create a record 16 million jobs and enabled us to enter into the current crisis with the lowest unemployment rate and the best budgetary position in a long time. Of course, we can and we must improve Economic and Monetary Union to make it even more successful in the next decade and beyond, as the EMU@10 Communication and Report[3] of May 2008 shows all too well.

€2 commemorative coin and euro documentary

To celebrate the euro anniversary, euro area countries will issue in January a €2 commemorative coin, which design was selected through a popular web vote organised by the Commission.

A lively television documentary has also been commissioned on the origins and history of the euro, its benefits and how it is perceived. It is available for download on the website of the Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate General.

Slovakia ready for € changeover

Preparations for the euro in Slovakia are now completed. Commercial banks received the banknotes and coins from September and have supplied them to shops and other businesses so that they handle payments and return change in euro from the 1st of January.

Citizens were able to buy mini kits of euro coins to acquaint themselves with their new currency. They also benefited from a large information campaign, including TV spots and a touring information bus. Their concerns about price increases were taken seriously by the Slovak authorities that put in place a number of measures, including an Ethical Code signed by business whereby they undertake to respect the changeover rules. The display of prices in both euro and koruna is compulsory since 24 August and until 1 January 2010. The respect of the changeover rules is carefully monitored by the Slovak Trade Inspection, which has visited more than 15,000 shops and service providers since August. The inspectors corrected shortcomings in dual display of prices when found and checked on price movements, particularly in sensitive sectors where problems were experienced in the previous changeovers. The Association of Slovak Consumers also plays a key role in checking price developments. The Commission actively supported the communication campaign under a Partnership agreement of December 2007.

Businesses and public administrations prepared themselves well in advance and their personnel were duly trained (especially for those in direct contact with the public).

To facilitate the changeover, the National Bank of Slovakia and commercial banks will be exceptionally open on 1 January as well as on the weekend of 3-4 January.

President Barroso, Commissioner Almunia and Education Commissioner and Slovak national Ján Figel will attend a ceremony in the Slovak capital Bratislava, on 8 January, to celebrate the adoption of the euro by Slovakia.

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