The Commission today adopted a Communication on the introduction of the euro in Slovakia. It presents the salient aspects of the change and draws some important lessons for future changeovers
Article created 20 April 2009.
All available data confirm that the changeover in Slovakia was smooth and perceived by the citizens as successful.
Slovakia adopted the euro on 1 January 2009 – the day when the euro celebrated its tenth anniversary- and thus became the 16th euro area Member State. Like in Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta the euro was introduced under the so-called 'big-bang' scenario, whereby euro banknotes and coins are introduced on the same day as the euro becomes the country's currency.
Smooth changeover to the euro
The changeover in Slovakia was duly prepared and smooth. Slovaks successfully managed to avoid many problems which occurred in the other countries introducing the euro (e.g. long waiting line in banks) by learning from their experience. Although the cash changeover started a bit slower than in the other countries which used a big-bang changeover scenario, the results attained are overall very positive.
Considering the particularly high amount of cash in circulation, the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) together with commercial banks took several measures to cope with the large extra workload at the beginning of January. During the 16 days of the dual circulation period, the NBS and commercial banks were open for cash exchanges virtually every day and increased significantly the staff number. According to all available information, the banks did not register major problems. The ATMs and IT systems of banks were quickly and successfully converted and waiting times for cash exchanges remained generally reasonable.
Some small shops remained closed during the period of dual circulation but a majority was open and shop keepers did not report problems with cash supplies or handling the new currency.
The Slovak authorities were very active in fighting citizens' fears of price increases during the changeover. The obligatory dual display of prices in Slovak koruna and euro will last until 1 January 2010. Its implementation is carefully monitored by the Slovak Trade Inspection (STI): until the end of February 2009, the STI made more than 25 000 controls. Out of the 420 complaints from citizens concerning price increases received by the STI in January and February, only one proved to be justified.
Slovaks satisfied with dual display
According to a Commission Eurobarometer survey, nine out of ten Slovaks find the dual display of prices to be useful and a majority of respondents believed that the dual prices were always correctly displayed. Compared to the other countries that have recently adopted the euro, the Slovak respondents are among the most satisfied with the dual display.
The national campaign on the euro can be perceived as successful: according to the January 2009 Eurobarometer, 90 % of Slovaks felt very well to rather well informed and almost 84% were rather or very satisfied with the information provided by the national authorities. This certainly contributed to the overall perception of the changeover: nine out of ten Slovaks perceived the changeover as smooth and efficient.