As EU celebrates ten years of its single currency, Slovakia gets the nod to join eurozone in 2009.
Ten years ago this month, EU leaders took the historic decision to launch the euro. The currency hit the streets in January 1999 and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was born.
Now some 320m Europeans in 15 countries – more than the population of the US – use the same currency and benefit from an integrated EU market.
The euro has also helped us run sound public finances and macroeconomic policies – all of which have created more jobs.
Average government budget deficits in the EU fell to a record low of 0.6% of GDP in 2007 (compared to 4% in the 80s and 90s). Reflecting this trend, the Commission was today able to recommend to the Council to close the surveillance procedures on the Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia for running excessive deficits.
Seeking to build on this success, an EU policy document out today takes stock of what has been achieved in the ten years since the euro's introduction and asks stakeholders how the single currency can deliver further benefits in future.
A milestone in the process of EU integration, EMU will have to be adapted to meet the challenges of globalisation, scarce natural resources, climate change and the ageing population in the years to come.
Another report out today found that Slovakia meets the requirements for joining the euro - stable prices and exchange rates, low interest rates, government deficits and debt, and compatible national laws. The commission will recommend that EU governments approve Slovakia's membership of the eurozone from 1 January 2009.
The other EU countries assessed (mostly recent members from the East, but also Sweden) were found not to meet the conditions for membership.