BRATISLAVA, Slovakia–Countries with the euro as their sole official currency, also known as the Eurozone, had two special reasons to celebrate the New Year. Beside the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the currency, the Eurozone will be expanding to include a new, 16th member: Slovakia. The number of citizens paying with the common European currency will thus increase to around 330 million.
According to a statement by the European Commission, Slovakia is well prepared for the changeover, and the transition to the new currency should be smooth. People will start using euro bills and coins on January 1, while the old Slovak korunas can be used in shops until January, 16.
Slovakia is the first country from the Soviet-sponsored Warsaw Pact to make the changeover to the euro. Owing mostly to former right-wing government reforms, Slovakia was able to meet the strict inflation and government debt criteria set down in the Maastricht Treaty—the basis for the euro.
According to a “Eurobarometer” survey conducted by The Gallup Organization, almost half (47 percent) of companies foresee a positive outcome from the changeover to the euro, At a national and personal level, over half of Slovakians believe the introduction will have ‘very positive’ or ‘rather positive’ consequences.