20th Feb 2020

Slovenia celebrates full entry into euro club

Slovenia is set to celebrate the country's full change from the tolar to the euro on Monday (15 January) with EU ministers and commissioners expected to attend festivities in Ljubljana.

"This will be one of the biggest events in Slovenian history and one of the biggest in the European Union this year," Slovenian state television reported Friday, according to AFP.

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  • Ljubljana - Slovenia has made the fastest economic progress out of the new EU states (Photo: European Commission)

The Slovenian government and the European Central Bank (ECB) are staging the event, which will see European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet welcome the Alpine state into the euro club.

Also expected are at least two commissioners from Brussels as well as seven prime ministers and seven ministers from other EU member states.

Some 2 million Slovenians got their first taste of the euro on 1 January – two and a half years after the former Yugoslav republic joined the European Union – and had just two weeks of dual-circulation to make the transition from the tolar to the new currency.

"Slovenia's first two weeks with the euro have gone smoothly with no major problems encountered in the cash changeover," the European Commission said in a statement on Friday (12 January).

The EU executive added that at the end of the two weeks the Slovenes were already making nearly all cash payments in euros. Almost 80 percent of tolars had already been deposited with banks and withdrawn from circulation.

Slovenia is the 13th EU member state to join the bloc's single currency.

Iceland keen on euro

In the meantime, Iceland is looking at how to join the euro without joining the European Union.

The Nordic country's foreign minister Valgerdur Sverrisdottír has said in an interview with Iceland Radio that she seriously wishes to look into whether Iceland can join the euro without being a member of the 27-nation EU, according to Norwegian news NRK.

Ms Sverrisdottír believes it is difficult to maintain an independent currency in a small economy on the open European market.

Iceland is a member of European Economic Area (EEA) - together with Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the 27 EU member states – that ensures the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital between the 30 EEA member countries.

The government on Iceland remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders' concern about losing control over fishing, which still provides almost 40 percent of export earnings and employs 8 percent of the work force.

Not the first

Europe's microstates - The Vatican, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra - although not formally EU members, adopted the euro in 2002 due to currency unions with member states.

Balkan country Montenegro and neighbouring UN-run region Kosovo have also adopted the euro as their legal currency for movement of capital and payments.

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