Brussels, 1 January 2007
Slovenia adopted the euro today, joining the 12 European Union countries which already form part of the euro area. The single currency was launched in 1999 and the euro banknotes and coins were introduced three years later, on 1st of January 2002. The initial indication is that everything went well in Slovenia with people being able to withdraw their first euro cash from the banks' Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and use it to buy their morning bread rolls and coffee.
"This is an important day for Slovenia, which becomes the first country of the 2004 EU enlargement to adopt the euro. I want to congratulate the Slovenian authorities and all the people involved in the changeover operation. As the Slovenian people starts paying and receiving change in euros, I wish to remind them to be careful in the next few days and weeks and also to watch out for the prices," said European Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.
As from today, the euro is Slovenia's currency and euro banknotes and coins are legal tender in the country. The changeover to the euro was made at the rate of 239.640 tolars per euro, according to a decision taken by the ECOFIN Council in July on a Commission proposal.
Slovenia is the first of the 10 countries that became members of the EU in 2004 to adopt the euro. It will join the 11 EU countries that adopted the single currency in 1999, followed by Greece in 2001.
As from today, the euro area has a population of 316.6 million, including 2.0 million Slovenians.
Slovenians were able to withdraw their first euro banknotes from the ATMs, which were adapted during the night to dispense euros from the 1st of January. The 2nd of January also being a bank holiday in Slovenia, banks and shops will face their first real test on Wednesday.
The tolar will continue to be legal tender alongside the euro until 14 January, after which date only the euro will have this status. This so-called dual circulation period is a relatively short one but one that draws on the lessons learnt in 2002 when the old currencies exited circulation much earlier than expected. Slovenians will continue to be able to exchange tolars at their banks.
Slovenia started getting ready for the euro when it joined the EU. The fact that it is the first to adopt the single currency is testimony to the stability-oriented policies pursued by the Government.
In 2006, Slovenia is expected to have an economic growth of 4.8%, an inflation of 2.5%, a national debt of 28% and an unemployment rate of 6.1%, according to the Commission's autumn forecasts. The GDP per capita is estimated at 82% of the EU average.
For information on benefits of the euro, Slovenia's practical preparations for the euro changeover and related issues see previous press releases of 21 December (IP/06/1875) and 28 December (IP/06/1901) and the following websites: