Brussels, 29 December 2008
In less than three days, the euro area will have two reasons to celebrate: the number of European Union countries that share the same currency will grow to 16 with Slovakia and it will be the 10th anniversary of the euro.
Slovakia will adopt the euro on the 1st of January, becoming the 16th EU country to do so after 11 launched the common currency 10 years ago. On New Year's day 328.6 million people out of the EU's 499.7 million will share the euro.
"I am very happy that we will celebrate the euro's 10th anniversary by welcoming Slovakia as a new member. Slovakia is about to take a historic step forward, for all its citizens and for Europe. Joining the euro will place Slovakia at the economic and political heart of Europe, less than five years after joining the European Union. This is a superb achievement and I look forward enormously to welcoming all Slovakians into the euro area", said Commission President José-Manuel Barroso.
"The 1st of January 2009 will be a proud moment for the euro area and for the EU as a whole as Slovakia becomes the 16th country to adopt the euro and the European currency celebrates its 10th anniversary. The euro has become the symbol of EU identity and is protecting us against the tremendous external shocks that we have had to cope with since the summer of 2007. We should be proud of that record and we safeguard the sound budgetary and macroeconomic framework that has made the euro such a success," said Joaquín Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs.
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 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.
President Barroso's and Commissioner Almunia's message of congratulations and welcome to Slovakian citizens can be seen at:
For detailed information on Slovakia's euro changeover see IP/08/1959 and:
Commission's 8th Report on the Practical Preparations for the Changeover
Slovak national changeover web site: www.euromena.sk
For more information on the euro and its benefits see DG ECFIN's website
The 10-year anniversary special 'EMU@10'
To see €2 commemorative coin:
For the documentary on the euro:
 Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain
 See Eurostat release 179/2008 of 15 December
 EMU@10 – Successes and challenges after 10 years of Economic and Monetary Union