May 17,2010   ESTONIA: THE 17TH MEMBER OF THE EUROZONE

The European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Policy Olli Rehn said that Estonia met all the convergence criteria for adopting euro. Estonia is set to join the Eurozone on the 1st of January 2011. European Commission stated that none of the other eight prospective euro candidates - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden - are ready to enter the currency. Estonia will get the final word on whether it can swap the kroon for the euro in July when EU finance ministers will vote on its membership application. EU leaders will talk about it at a June summit and the European Parliament will also discuss it.

The euro (€) is the official currency of the European Union (EU). Euro coins and banknotes entered circulation on 1 January 2002 in twelve countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Slovenia adopted euro in January 2007, Cyprus Malta in January 2008 and Slovakia in 2009. Several criteria have to be met for entering Eurozone. The most important are: inflation rate up to 1.5 percentage points higher than the average of the three best performing (lowest inflation) member states of the EU; the ratio of the annual government deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) must not exceed 3% at the end of the preceding fiscal year; the ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year.