Leaders of the 27 European Union nations on June 15 gave the green light for Estonia to adopt the troubled euro currency as of Jan. 1, 2011, reports LETA-AFP. The European parliament gave its go-ahead the following day, meaning that Estonia will become the 17th country to switch to the shared currency, with the European Commission already having determined that Tallinn has met the strict entry criteria. These include keeping national debt and deficits under control as well as inflation, with limited fluctuations on foreign exchange markets and on interest rate levels. According to the latest EU estimates, Estonia will post a public deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP this year and debt of 9.6 percent of GDP.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated at the EU ministers’ meeting in Brussels that during the Belgian presidency it is important for the EU to move forward with accession negotiations with Iceland, Croatia and Turkey, reports LETA. The Estonian minister of foreign affairs added that it is also necessary to provide the Eastern Partnership with rather more substance. “In order to successfully continue the enlargement process, visa facilitation and free trade issues also need to be advanced - this also in the dialogue with countries in the Eastern Partnership,” he said. Paet added that it is also important to determine more clearly the future developments in the European Union’s relations with China, India, Turkey, Brazil and Russia. “The EU certainly must work closer together with the United States as well, for instance in economic and trade matters,” asserted the Estonian minister.