TALLINN - The EU's monetary commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said on Dec. 15 that Estonia is set to become one of the first new member states to adopt the common currency.
"I cannot say that Estonia will be the first of the new members of the European Union to adopt the euro, but it will definitely be among the first countries," Almunia told reporters in Tallinn.
He said Estonia was well prepared to adopt the euro since economic conditions in the country were good. He added that the rapid adoption of the common currency would be beneficial for the economy.
Estonia has repeatedly stated its desire to join the euro zone from Jan. 1, 2007, at the latest. Technically, the country intends to be ready for the euro by the summer of 2006.
Almunia said that aside from resolving the technical issues, both Estonian residents and businesses must have the confidence that joining the euro zone will be beneficial, as circulation of the euro will ensure economic security and stability.
The governor of the Bank of Estonia, Vahur Kraft, said the biggest problem that the country faced was residents' fear of inflation that could result once the euro is adopted.
"Adoption of the euro raised the inflation level in the European Union only by 0.2 percent - 0.4 percent," Kraft said.
Finance Minister Taavi Veskimagi said a work group would be set up at the ministry to deal with the technical aspects of phasing in the common currency. The work group would report to the Cabinet initially once per quarter and more often later.