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IP/09/6

Brussels, 5 January 2009

Euro adoption proceeds smoothly in Slovakia

The changeover to the euro in Slovakia is taking place smoothly. By the end of Saturday 3 January some 27% of payments in shops were made in euro and virtually all customers were getting their change in the currency now shared by nearly 329 million Europeans including some 5.4 milion Slovaks. No major problems were observed in banks or in retail sector.

Slovakia on the 1st of January became the 16th European Union country to adopt the euro. The changeover is progressing steadily with nearly half of citizens polled saying they had mostly euro in their wallets at the close of business on Saturday (44% had only or mostly euro banknotes and 48% had only or mostly euro coins). Early indications show the number of cash payments in euro increasing at shops on Monday, from 27% on Saturday, as shops increasingly give change in Europe's common currency and the koruna is progressively withdrawn. The period during which the euro and the koruna will continue to circulate alongside each other (so-called dual circulation period) will end on 16 January.

No major problems have been encountered. By Saturday, all banks had successfully finalized the conversion of their IT systems and around a third of bank branches stayed open at the weekend to offer a currency exchange service.

Retailers were coping well with the changeover process especially as people were only slowly coming back from holidays. There were some reports of queues at some shops, but the people of Slovakia were generally patient and welcomed the European currency with enthusiasm. Supplies of euro cash to shops and retrievals of koruna cash to the central bank were proceeding smoothly.

The Slovak Trade Inspection (STI) is closely following that the changeover rules are respected and the prices properly converted at the legal rate of 30.1260 koruna to the euro. Out of the 203 shops and service provider outlets controlled on 1 and 2 January the STI inspectors identified only three major problems (in one instance the cahier refused to accept payment in euro, in another payment in koruna was refused and in a third case no cash was accepted). The STI is also regularly controlling prices, especially in sectors where problems were identified in previous changeovers (e.g. restaurants, hairdressers, cafes, public parkings). Citizens are regularly informed about the results of the controls and are encouraged to contact the Trade Inspection or other consumer protection bodies in case they observe any irregularities.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso will be in the Slovak capital of Bratislava on Thursday to participate in a ceremony to celebrate the adoption of the euro. He will be accompanied by Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquín Almunia and by Ján Figel, Education Commissioner and a Slovak national.

For detailed information on Slovakia's euro changeover and results of the related Eurobarometer surveys see:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/thematic_articles/article13563_en.htm

See also the Slovak national changeover website:

www.euromena.sk

For more information on the euro and its benefits see DG ECFIN's website:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/euro/our_currency_en.htm

See also the special 'EMU@10' website for the 10th anniversary of the euro:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/emu10/index_en.htm

A 10-year €2 commemorative coin:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/thematic_articles/article11072_en.htm

A documentary film on the euro:

(http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/emu10/documentary.htm)


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