Estonia clears final euro hurdle

  • 2010-06-10
  • Oskars Magone

After receiving backing from EU finance ministers Estonia is assured a place in the eurozone at the start of next year.

TALLINN - Estonia's aspirations to join the eurozone cleared its final hurdle this week as finance ministers from all 27 member states endorsed a Jan. 1, 2011 date for the country to adopt the unified currency.

“Estonia will become the 17th member of the euro area on Jan. 1, 2011,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters.

Juncker chaired the monthly meeting of euro-region finance ministers in Luxembourg at which the finance ministers officially gave their backing to Estonia's euro ambitions.

Adopting the euro has been one of Estonia's top economic priorities ever since the single currency was created in 1999. The country has so far been unable to join because of high inflation.

Political backing for Estonia to switch to the euro comes in the face of the ECB’s concerns that Estonia’s inflation rate, at 2.5 percent in April, may jump in years ahead as economic growth outstrips the euro-area average.

"It is a great day for Estonia, but I want to stress it does not mean big policy changes. What we need is the reliability of a bigger currency. It reduces risks for investors," said Estonian Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi. 

Other major topics at the meeting included fiscal turbulence in Greece and Portugal, as well as economic reform and financial discipline throughout the bloc.