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Long trek ahead to euro adoption

SlOVAKIA has so far fulfilled just one of the conditions for joining the Euro, the latest report by the European Commission (EC) and European Central Bank (ECB) states. In its efforts to become part of the Eurozone by 2009, Slovakia has so far managed only the convergence of long-term interest rates. Other criteria, such as price and exchange-rate stability, and the implementation of the necessary legislation, have yet to be fulfilled, the TASR news agency wrote. None of the countries monitored have fulfilled all of them.

Lithuania has done the best, having met three, while the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia have each fulfilled two conditions. Malta has met just one criterion, like Slovakia, while Poland and Hungary have not managed to achieve any of the requirements. The report states that Slovakia's central bank (NBS) has been slow in integrating into the system of European central banks because legislation to ensure the full independence of the NBS is not yet in compliance with EU requirements.

An annual inflation rate of 8.4 percent (at the end of August) means a lack of price stability, and a budget deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP in 2003 exceeded the 3 percent level set by the Maastricht treaty.

Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš says that the nation's economy was on track to meet the Maastricht criteria by 2007, which means that the country could adopt the euro in 2009.

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