Slovaks are gearing up for the arrival of the euro on 1 January, when their country becomes the 16th member of the euro area.
The euro is set to become legal tender in Slovakia on 1 January 2009. After a 16-day transition period during which both currencies will be in use, the Slovak koruna will disappear from wallets and tills.
The date marks 10 years since the launch of the euro in 11 EU countries, although they kept their national notes and coins until early 2002. In 2001 Greece adopted the euro. Slovenia followed in 2007, and Malta and Cyprus in 2008. Entering the eurozone required reform of economic and fiscal policies over many years.
Changing currency involves more than simply replacing the coins and notes in daily use. Authorities and businesses in Slovakia have had to make meticulous technical preparations for the switchover, and arrangements for distributing the new currency and withdrawing the koruna have needed major logistical planning.
Slovak consumers and traders have received information about the switch through a campaign run by the Slovak authorities over the past 10 months. The campaign has also addressed concerns about price increases during the changeover. A recent survey confirmed that the public now feel prepared and are less worried about price rises.
Coin enthusiasts will have three new designs for their collections: a double cross on the back of the 2 and 1 euro coins, Bratislava castle and one of Slovakia’s mountain peaks – Krivan – on the back of the euro cent coins.
The move to the euro will be closely monitored – by the Slovak government and the EU. Daily surveys will assess how the changeover is going, and the commission will present its assessment in spring 2009.