Brussels, 1 January 2009
Today, the euro area has two reasons to celebrate: the number of European Union countries that share the same currency grew to 16 with Slovakia and it is the 10th anniversary of the euro. All available data indicate that the changeover from the Slovak koruna went well. Citizens are able to withdraw euro cash from ATMs all over Slovakia and to use it for daily payments.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso said: "On this tenth anniversary of the euro, I congratulate Slovakia and warmly welcome all its citizens to the euro area. The euro will help Slovakia to take part in, and benefit from, Europe's collective effort to recover from the current economic crisis. By joining the euro area, Slovakia has enhanced its long-term potential to create growth and jobs and keep inflation under control. But the euro is more than just money. On this historic New Year's Day, Slovakia is a powerful symbol of economic and political progress and of European integration."
"This is an exciting moment for the euro area but also 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 proving to be a solid stabilising factor in currency markets both inside and outside the euro area. This is no mean feat as no other markets from banking to securities have been spared by the global financial and economic crisis. We should be proud of that record and we must safeguard the sound budgetary and macroeconomic framework that has made the euro such a success. The Commission certainly has every intention to apply the Stability and Growth Pact and to carry on with its budgetary surveillance duties conferred by the Treaty," said Joaquín Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs.
Details on the changeover in Slovakia
According to a new Commission survey[i], a large proportion of the Slovak citizens already had Euros three days before the changeover: 60% had Euro coins - mainly from the starter kits (53%) and from a previous trip abroad (42%) - while 49% had Euro banknotes – mainly from a trip abroad (56%) and from an exchange in a bank in Slovakia (39%). Despite the high volume of Euro cash already in the economy, most citizens have respected the prohibition to use it before €-day (only 7% of the Slovaks have received banknotes via a cash transaction in Slovakia). This widespread holding of Euros by the citizens will contribute to a smooth start of the cash payments in Euro in the first days of January. Questioned on the duration of the dual circulation period – a good proxy for assessing people’s knowledge of the Euro changeover – 71% of the population was able to give the correct answer (2 weeks).
As people gathered massively to celebrate joyfully the euro changeover and the new year's eve in the historic heart of Bratislava, the conversion of the ATMs went smoothly and citizens could start withdrawing euro banknotes as of midnight.
€2 commemorative coin celebrating 10 years of the euro
To celebrate the euro anniversary, euro area countries will issue from January 1st a total of 84 million €2 commemorative coins. The design of the special coin 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 will be broadcasted on European TV channels and it is also available for download on the website of the Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate General (see below).
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' website:
To see €2 commemorative coin:
For the documentary on the euro: