The ministers of finance of the European Union’s member countries gave the thumbs-up to Slovakia’s plans to introduce the euro currency as of January 1, 2009. At a meeting of the 27 ministers on June 3, Jean-Claude Juncker (right), the chairman of the eurozone finance ministers, said: “We are glad that we will see Slovakia in the eurozone as of January”.
Following the finance ministers’ approval, Slovakia had only to secure the green light from the heads of state of the EU member countries at their summit June 19-20, and then from the Council of Europe at a meeting in early July, where the conversion rate between the crown and the euro was to be set. However, the stance of the finance ministers was seen as decisive in making Slovakia the 16th eurozone member, and the fourth new-EU member to join after Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus.
In late May, the central parity rate for the crown and euro was changed for the second time since Slovakia applied to join the eurozone, falling this time by 15% to 30.126 SKK/EUR. It was the first time in the history of the currency that an applicant country’s parity had been changed twice, and the new rate was expected also to become the final conversion rate.
Slovakia’s central parity was initially pegged at 38.455 SKK/EUR in November 2005 when the country joined the ‘waiting room’ for eurozone entry, but was lowered by 8% last year to reflect the strength of the country’s economy, which after years of reforms has been growing at the fastest rate in the expanded EU, and last year expanded by 10.9%.
Juncker called on Slovakia to be vigilant on inflation and to further consolidate its public finances, but added that “this last remark is for all member states”.