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Slovenia Business Week no. 02: European Commission Lauds Euro Changeover

The European Commission applauded Slovenia's changeover to the euro as swift and problem-free

The European Commission on Friday, 5 January applauded Slovenia's changeover to the euro as swift and problem-free.

"Slovenia's adoption of the euro is taking place in a very swift and smooth manner. This shows that Slovenians were able to benefit from the experience of the first group of countries that launched EU monetary union but is also testimony of their excellent preparation," European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

Slovenia's changeover to the euro since 1 January appears to be proceeding smoothly. Euro cash payments are already becoming the rule, and should become generalised well before the end of the 14-day dual circulation period foreseen in the changeover plan, the European Commission said in its press release.

The Commission pointed out that by the end of Wednesday, 3 January, the first working day of the year, around 40% of Slovenia's currency, the tolar, had been returned to banks and withdrawn from circulation. Since the beginning of January, banks have provided only euro and retailers are no longer giving change in tolars.

While banks faced an unusually high level of activity in the first two working days, as many customers appeared to want to exchange the legacy cash for euro as soon as possible, the situation is now getting back to normal, the Commission said.

Satisfaction about Slovenia's entry to the euro zone was also voiced by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet. We are happy to establish that the euro zone has expanded to 13 countries of 315 million people, Trichet said in a press release.

The official also welcomed Governor of Banka Slovenije Mitja Gaspari as a full-fledged member of the main decision-making body of the ECB, the Governing Council. Together, we will continue to secure price stability in the euro zone, and in this way carry out our main mission, Trichet said.

The ECB president praised cooperation with Slovenia's central bank and all bodies at the national and European level that paved the way to smooth transition. According to him, all parties involved in the exchange of cash into euros did an excellent job.

He said Slovenia's entry into the European Economic and Monetary Union less than three years after it joined the EU showed the EMU was not a closed society, but an area open to all who meet the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty.

The ECB chief added that Slovenia could be proud indeed to have shown it has met the criteria with successful and productive work.

According to a daily survey carried among the Slovenian population for the Commission, 39% of Slovenians said they had only euro banknotes in their wallets on Thursday, 4 January evening, with a further 31% saying they had only a few tolar notes left. The corresponding figures for euro coins were 54% and 24%.

As the tolar is phased out of circulation, cash payments in euro have increased steadily and already represented more than half (54%) of all cash payments on the evening of 4 January. This is broadly in line with the previous experience in 2002. The 100% mark is expected to be reached within a few more days, the Commission expects.

The dual display of prices will continue by law until mid-2007 and consumers are urged to remain vigilant with respect to possible unjustified price increases, the European Commission said.

Meanwhile, the National Market Inspectorate reported that inspectors had detected 87 violations related to the dual pricing, most of them at shops and in bars.

In all cases warnings sufficed for the companies to bring their operations in line with the law. The inspectors will continue their checks in the following days.

Source: Slovenian Press Agency STA

Author: STA, Slovenian National Press Agency