Enlargement of the eurozone

Enlargement of the eurozone

Enlargement of the Eurozone is currently a policy of the European Central Bank, enforced by EU treaties. The first expansion was that of Greece, the currency of which was not irrevocably fixed against the euro until 2001, however, Greece exchanged its physical currency on 1 January 2002, the same day as the founding members. The next expansion was the addition of Slovenia to the eurozone on 1 January 2007; Cyprus and Malta joined on 1 January 2008. Slovakia will be the next country to join the common currency from 1 January 2009. [ citeweb|url=http://euobserver.com/9/26096is/ |title=Slovakia confirmed as ready for Euro|publisher=euobserver.com|accessdate=2008-05-07]

Accession criteria

In order to officially join the eurozone (thus having the ability to mint coins separately), a country must generally first be a member of the European Union, and then meet certain economic criteria, including accession to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II), which fixes the acceding country's national currency's exchange rate to the euro, within a specified band (normally ±15%).

European microstates that have monetary agreements with acceding countries can continue these agreements to mint separate coins on the accession of the larger state, but do not get a say in the economic affairs of the eurozone. This has been used so far to allow Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City to mint their own coins, and Andorra is in the process of negotiating such an agreement.

Historical enlargements

:"For the process of the introduction of the euro to the original member states, see Introduction of the euro."


Greece was the first country to join the eurozone after the launch of the currency in 1999. The exchange rate between the Greek drachma and the euro was fixed on 19 June 2000, and Greece formally joined the eurozone on 1 January 2001. Greek drachma coins and notes were replaced with euro coins and banknotes on 1 January 2002, together with all the original euro countries.


Slovenia was the first country to join the eurozone after the launch of the coins and banknotes, with the euro replacing the Slovenian tolar on 1 January 2007. The exchange rate between the euro and tolar had been set on 11 July 2006, but unlike the previous launches, cash and non-cash transactions were introduced simultaneously.


Cyprus replaced the Cypriot pound with the euro on 1 January 2008. [cite web|url=http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1040&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en |title=Commission hails approval of the adoption of the euro in Cyprus and Malta |publisher=European Commission |work=europa.eu |accessdate=2007-12-24] A formal letter of application was submitted on 13 February 2007.EUobserver [http://euobserver.com/9/23488 Small EU states rush to join single currency] ] On 16 May 2007 the European Commission backed by the European Central Bank gave its green light for the introduction in January 2008.cite web|url=http://www.euractiv.com/en/euro/cyprus-malta-set-join-eurozone-2008/article-163836|title=Cyprus and Malta set to join eurozone in 2008] The final decision was taken by the EU finance ministers (Ecofin) on 10 July 2007 and the conversion rate was fixed at 0.585274 CYP.cite news | title= Cyprus and Malta to adopt euros | url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6288084.stm | publisher= BBC News | date=2007-07-10 | accessdate=2007-08-13] The new currency is only used in the government-controlled areas of the Republic, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (under UK jurisdiction, outside the EU) and in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus. [cite web|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3097521.ece|title=Euro reaches field that is for ever England] The de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus still continues to use the new Turkish lira.Fact|date=January 2008


Malta replaced the Maltese lira with the euro on 1 January 2008. [cite web|url=http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1040&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en|title=The European Commission hails approval of the adoption of the Euro in Cyprus and Malta] The aims were officially confirmed on 26 February 2007.EUobserver [http://euobserver.com/9/23578 Malta's euro bid may test EU public debt criteria] ] On 16 May 2007, the European Commission backed by the European Central Bank gave its green light for the introduction in January 2008. The EU finance ministers gave the green light on 10 July 2007 and the conversion rate was fixed at 0.429300 MTL.

ERM II members

All other EU members are formally expected to join the eurozone eventually, except for Denmark and the United Kingdom, who have opt-outs under the Maastricht Treaty. The following members have acceded to ERM II, in which they must spend two years, before they can adopt the euro.


Slovakia will adopt the euro on 1 January 2009.

The koruna has been part of ERM II since 28 November 2005, requiring that it trade within 15% of an agreed central rate; this rate was changed on 17 March 2007 and again on 28 May 2008. The rate from May 2008 was finally confirmed on 8 July 2008. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7495169.stm BBC NEWS | Business | Slovak euro exchange rate is set ] ]

To assist the process of conversion to the euro, on 1 April 2008, the Slovak Central Bank (NBS) announced their plan for withdrawal, disposal and destruction of the Slovak koruna notes and coins, making Slovakia introduction to the eurozone in 2009 even more imminent. [cite web | url=http://www.tasr.sk/30.axd?k=20080401TBB00434 | title=NBS Preparing to Withdraw and Destroy Koruna Notes and Coins] A few days later, on 5 April 2008, Slovakia officially applied to enter the eurozone. [cite web|url=http://euobserver.com/9/25930|title=Most Danes want euro, Slovakia bids for 2009 eurozone entry] On 7 May 2008, the European Commission approved the application and asked member states to endorse the bid during the EU finance minister's meeting in July 2008. [cite web | url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7503001 | title=Slovakia gets green light to join euro zone in 2009 | accessdate=2008-05-10 | date=2008-05-07 | publisher=The Guardian] [cite web | url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601095&sid=aG0A3s0J7qYE&refer=east_europe | title=Slovakia Secures Commission Approval for Euro Entry] [cite web | url=http://www.business24-7.ae/Articles/2008/5/Pages/SlovakiawonEUandECBbackingtoadopteuro.aspx | title = Slovakia won EU and ECB backing to adopt euro]

Slovakia's twelve-month inflation was 2.2% compared with 3.2% that is required. Annual inflation however was 3.6% for March 2008. Fiscal deficit was 2.2% versus the reference value of 3.0%. And finally, the government debt ratio was 29.4% of GDP in 2007, well below the maximum ratio of 60.0%. [cite web | url=http://www.ecb.int/press/pr/date/2008/html/pr080507.en.html | title=ECB Press Release of May 7, 2008]


The kroon is part of ERM II, though in practice it is pegged to the euro at a rate of 15.6466 krooni = 1 euro (it was formerly pegged to the German Mark at 8 krooni = 1 German Mark).

Estonia has currently no official target date for the changeover, although the last target date was for 1 January 2011, but this may change. The kroon is pegged to the euro at a fixed rate, almost all shops show prices in euro. Stamps also carry their euro face value. [ cite web | url = http://www.post.ee/popup.php?ict=http://www.post.ee/px_custom/product_img/img_2836.jpg&name=Estonian+manor+halls.+Taagepera/+361-16.08.06 | title = Estonian manor halls. Taagepera/361-16.08.06 | accessdate = 2006-09-12| publisher = Eesti Post] Estonia originally aimed to adopt the euro on 1 January 2007, but this was postponed to 1 January 2008 (because Estonia did not meet the inflation criterion [ cite web | url = http://euro.eesti.ee/EU/Euroveeb_edit/Main_Page/News/goverment_euro__delay.jsp | title = Government: We must be technically prepared for the adoption of euro on 1 January 2008| accessdate = 2006-09-12 | date =2006-04-27 | publisher = Eesti Pank. Bank of Estonia] [ cite web | url = http://www.eestipank.info/pub/en/majandus/euroopaliit/index.htm?objId=666928 | title = Estonia's National Changeover Plan | accessdate = 2006-09-12 | publisher = Eesti Pank. Bank of Estonia] ) and then to 1 January 2010, [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2524244,00.html Non, nein, no: Europe turns negative on the euro] , "The Times", 2006-12-31, accessed on 2007-01-01 ] but this is not official yet. The date had slipped further due to the expected inflation level. [ cite web| url = http://www.bbj.hu/news/news_24295_estonia+raises+inflation+forecast+further+dimming+euro+entry.html| title = Estonia raises inflation forecast, further dimming euro entry. | accessdate = 2007-04-30| publisher = Budapest Business Journal]

On 11 November 2007, Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip vowed to continue tight fiscal policies because he wanted the country to adopt the euro as soon as possible despite current high inflation. [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7106836 | title=Estonia to work out the inflation to join the eurozone. | accessdate = 2007-11-11] Later, on 14 March 2008, he said in an interview with Reuters that he sees eurozone entry in 2011. [cite web | url=http://www.bbj.hu/main/news_37323_estonian+pm+sees+euro+zone+entry+in+2011.html | title=Estonia aims strongly to join the eurozone in 2011. | accessdate = 2008-03-14]


The Lithuanian litas is part of ERM II and in practice it is pegged to the euro at a rate of 3.45280 litai = 1 euro.

Lithuania originally set 1 January 2007 as the target date for joining the euro, but their application was rejected by the European Commission because inflation was slightly higher than the permitted maximum. In December 2006 the government approved a new convergence plan which, whilst reaffirming that the government wanted to join the eurozone "as soon as possible", said that expected inflation increases in 2007-8 would mean the best period for joining the euro would be 2010 or after. [ [http://www.lb.lt/eng/euro/index.htm Adoption of the euro in Lithuania] , "Bank of Lithuania", accessed on 2007-01-11] Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said on 4 December 2007 that Lithuania "will be able to join the eurozone in the time frame of 2010 to 2011." [cite news|url= http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2007/12/04/afx4401809.html |title= Lithuanian PM says aiming for euro by 2010-2011 | publisher= Forbes | date=2007-04-12 | accessdate=2008-01-03]

An opinion poll published in January 2007 showed that more Lithuanians opposed euro adoption than supported it.cite web | author=Angus Reid Global Monitor | date=2007-01-02 | url= http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/14274 | title= Lithuanians Divided on Euro Adoption | accessdate=2008-01-09]


The lats is in ERM II, and floats within 1% of the central rate, Ls 0.702804 = €1. Latvia expects to adopt the euro in 2012 at the earliest, [cite news | title= Don’t look for the Euro until after 2012 | url= http://www.neurope.eu/view_news.php?id=76779 | publisher= New Europe | date= 2007-08-18 | accessdate=2007-12-27] but originally aimed to adopt the euro on 1 January 2008. Due to problems with inflation, Latvia was forced to delay this date. [ cite web| url = http://www.eubusiness.com/Euro/060308175357.45p8eldk| title = Inflation will delay euro adoption in Latvia: Standard & Poor's| date = 2006-03-08| accessdate = 2006-09-12| publisher = EUbusiness]


Denmark has pegged its krone to the euro (€1 = DKK 7.46038 ± 2.25%) and the krone remains in the ERM.

In December 1992 Denmark negotiated a number of opt-out clauses from the Maastricht treaty (see Edinburgh Agreement), including not adopting the euro as currency. This was done in response to the Maastricht treaty having been rejected by the Danish people in a referendum earlier that year. As a result of the changes, the treaty was finally ratified in a subsequent referendum held in 1993. On 28 September 2000, another referendum was held in Denmark regarding the euro resulting in a 53.2% vote against joining.

On 22 November 2007, the newly re-elected Danish government declared its intention to hold a new referendum about abolishing the four opt-out clauses, including the euro, by 2011. [ cite web
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,,2215481,00.html
title = Danes to hold referendum on relationship with EU
date = 2007-11-22
accessdate = 2007-11-22
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
language = English
] . A poll was conducted between 31 March and 2 April 2008 with the majority of Danes in favour of adopting the euro. [cite web | url=http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1207305120.75 | title=Majority of Danes favour adopting euro]

Obliged to join

The following members must first join ERM II before they can adopt the euro.


The lev is not part of ERM II, but has been pegged to the euro since its launch. It was previously pegged on a par to the German Mark (1.95583 leva is 1 euro). Hence, Bulgaria already fulfilled the great majority of the EMU membership criteria and must, from 2009, comply with the Maastricht criteria to join the eurozone in 2012, the tentative deadline set by Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski. [cite news |url=http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/bulgarias-budget-of-reform/id_26395/catid_23 |title= Bulgaria's budget of reform | publisher=The Sofia Echo | date=2007-11-30 | accessdate=2008-01-03]

While the currency board which pegs Bulgaria to the euro has been seen as beneficial to the country fulfilling EMU criteria so early, [cite web |url=http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/bulgaria-could-join-euro-zone-ahead-of-other-eu-countries/id_12411/catid_38 |title= BULGARIA COULD JOIN EURO ZONE AHEAD OF OTHER EU COUNTRIES] the ECB has been pressuring Bulgaria to drop it as it did not know how to let a country using a currency board join the euro. The Prime Minister has stated he would wish to keep the currency board until the euro was adopted, but factors such as high inflation, an unrealistic exchange rate with the euro and the low productivity is made worse by the system. [cite web|url=http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/eu-said-to-pressure-bulgaria-into-discontinuing-currency-board/id_26834/catid_66|title=EU SAID TO PRESSURE BULGARIA INTO DISCONTINUING CURRENCY BOARD]

Bulgaria meets three and fails on two criteria in order to join the eurozone. It derogates on the price stability criterion, which envisages that its inflation does not exceed that of the three EU member states with the lowest inflation (Malta, the Netherlands and Denmark) by 1.5%. Bulgaria’s inflation in the 12 months to March 2008 reached 9.4%, well above the reference value of 3.2%, the report said.

On the upside, Bulgaria fulfils the state budget criterion, which foresees that the deficit does not exceed 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Over the past few years, the report said, the country has consistently improved its budget fundamentals and since 2003, a break-even point, the budget ran surpluses and in 2007 was at 3.4% of GDP. The EC forecasts that it will remain at 3.2% of GDP in both 2008 and 2009.

In regard to public debt, Bulgaria has also been within the prescribed cap of 60% of GDP. Government debt has also been declining consistently, from 50% of GDP to 18% in 2007. The expectation are to reach 11% of GDP in 2009. [cite web | url=http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/first-check-against-euro-zone-criteria/id_29318/catid_23 | title=The Sofia Echo | accessdate=2008-05-17]

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is similarly bound by the Treaty of Accession 2003 to join the euro at some point, but this is not likely to come soon. The koruna is not part of ERM II. Since joining the EU in 2004, the Czech Republic has adopted a fiscal and monetary policy that aims to align its macroeconomic conditions with the rest of the European Union. Currently, the most pressing issue is the large Czech fiscal deficit. Originally, the Czech Republic aimed for entry into the ERM II in 2008 or 2009, but the current government has officially dropped the 2010 target date, saying it will clearly not meet the economic criteria. It has been suggested that 2013 is the earliest possible changeover date.


Hungary's government has all but dropped plans to adopt the euro by the original date of 1 January 2010. Most financial studies, such as those produced by Standard & Poor's and by Fitch Ratings, suggest that Hungary will not be able to adopt the common European currency before 2011 - 2012, due to the country's high deficit, which in 2006 exceeded 10% of the GDP. On the other hand in 2007, the deficit decreased under 5% and at the and of 2008, it will reach 3.8%. Due to the good convergence program, Goldman Sachs said that Hungary can join in ERM in 2009 and adopt euro in 2012-2013.


Poland is bound by the Treaty of Accession 2003 to join the euro at some point, but current indications are that this will not be for several years to come as economic criteria must be met. The złoty is not part of ERM II, itself a requirement for euro membership.

On 10 September 2008, speaking at the launch of an economic forum in a Polish resort of Krynica-Zdrój, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced the ruling government's objective to join the Eurozone in 2012, by holding a referendum in 2010 and being approved by the European Central Bank in 2011. [cite web | url=http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2008/09/18/afx5440142.html | title=Poland may hold euro referendum in 2010-Deputy PM | publisher=Forbes | accessdate=2008-09-19] [cite web | url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7799421 | title=Poland may push back euro rollout to 2012 | publisher=guardian.co.uk | accessdate=2008-09-19] [cite web | url=http://www.bizpoland.pl/news/index.php?contentid=172545 | title=Poland may push back euro rollout to 2012 | publisher=BizPoland | accessdate=2008-09-19] However, since the Polish constitution will need to be changed first [cite web | url=http://www.fxstreet.com/news/forex-news/article.aspx?StoryId=c5dfd795-8560-498d-99ec-cc0066d38786 | title=Polish charter must change before ERM-2 | publisher=www.fxstreet.com | accessdate=2008-09-25] and they will have to join the ERM 2 before second quarter 2009 [cite web | url=http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2008/09/25/afx5469429.html | title=Poland will have to join ERM-2 at latest in Q2 2009 | accessdate=2008-09-26 | publisher=Forbes ] , this target date is still very aggressive.


Romania will replace the current national currency, the Romanian leu, with the euro once Romania fulfills the convergence criteria. The euro will probably be adopted by Romania in 2014, but not before 2011, according to Romanian National Bank's governor, Mugur Isărescu.


According to the 1994 accession treaty [http://www.consilium.europa.eu/cms3_Applications/applications/Accords/details.asp?cmsid=297&id=1994028&lang=EN&doclang=EN] , approved by referendum (52% in favour of the treaty), Sweden is required to join the euro and therefore must convert to the euro at some point. Notwithstanding this, on 14 September 2003, a second referendum was held on the euro, the result of which was 56% against adopting the common currency versus 42% in favour. [cite web | url=http://www.val.se/val/emu2003/resultat/slutresultat/ | title=Folkomröstning 14 september 2003 om införande av euron | language=Swedish | accessdate=2008-02-02 | publisher=Swedish Election Authority] The Swedish government has argued that staying outside the euro is legal since one of the requirements for eurozone membership is a prior two-year membership of the ERM II; by simply choosing to stay outside the exchange rate mechanism, the Swedish government is provided a formal loophole avoiding the requirement of adopting the euro. Some of Sweden's major parties continue to believe that it would be in the national interest to join, but they have all pledged to abide by the result of the referendum for the time being and show no interest in raising the issue.

A very optimistic timetable is to hold a new referendum in 2012 and adopt the euro in 2015. A faster timetable is unlikely, while a slower one is more than likely. Prior to the September 2006 parliamentary elections, all major parties agreed not to raise the question before the following parliamentary elections (to be held in September 2010). The parties seem to agree that Sweden would not adopt the euro until after a second referendum. The Prime minister stated in December 2007 that there will be no referendum until there is a stable support in the polls cite web |url=http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article1377536.ab |title= Glöm euron, Reinfeldt| publisher=Aftonbladet | date=2007-12-02 | accessdate=2008-02-03 | language=Swedish] . The polls have instead shown a stable support for the "no" alternative. The latest one from November 2007 showed 35% yes, 51% no, 14% uncertain. [cite web |url=http://www.scb.se/templates/tableOrChart____89245.asp |title= EMU-/eurosympatier 1997-2007 | publisher=Statistics Sweden | date=2007-12-18 | accessdate=2008-01-03 | language=Swedish] . The EU has made it clear that it will tolerate this with respect to Sweden but not those member states that joined in 2004 or 2007.

United Kingdom

The U.K. currency is the pound sterling and the country has an opt-out from eurozone membership. The government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair set "five economic tests" that must be passed before it can recommend that the UK join the euro; and pledged to hold a public referendum for deciding membership should those five economic tests be met. In addition to this own internal (national) criteria, the UK has to meet the EU's economic convergence criteria (Maastricht criteria), before being allowed to adopt the euro. Currently (2008), the UK satisfies all the convergence criteria set by the EU for adoption of the euro, except membership of the ERM II.

Furthermore, the United Kingdom redesigned most of its coinage in 2008, which is seen by some as an indication that the country has no intention of switching to the euro within the foreseeable future. [cite web | url=http://www.numismaster.com/ta/numis/Article.jsp?ad=article&ArticleId=4420 | title=Make Way for Britain's New Coin Designs | accessdate=2008-05-17]

The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia introduced the Euro at the same time as Cyprus on 2008-01-01. They do not have separate euro coins.

Future members

Croatia is assumed to soon become a member of the European Union. The negotiations are nearly finished and membership is expected in 2010 or 2011. After that they will be obliged to adopt the euro. They fulfil the convergence criteria (inflation 2.6%, budget balance -3,0%, public debt 56.2% year 2006). The adoption of the euro would have to be delayed until at least three years after membership (Slovenia took 3 years).

In Iceland there has been some discussion about adopting the euro without becoming an EU member because of the instability of the Icelandic króna. The EU does not allow this and the Icelandic government isn't planning to join. [ [http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2008/02/23/iceland-cannot-adopt-euro-with-joining-eu-says-stark/ Iceland cannot adopt Euro with joining EU, says Stark] (sic)] There is also discussion on membership of the European Union itself (see Iceland and the European Union), which would oblige Iceland to join the euro.

ummary of adoption progress

The new member states should be adopting the euro as soon as appropriate guidelines are met. For these new member states, the single currency was "part of the package" of European Union membership – unlike the UK and Denmark, "opting out" is not permitted.

The dates the remaining states are expected to enter the third stage of the EMU and adopt the euro vary: 2009 for Slovakia; early 2010 for Lithuania; 2011 for Estonia; 2012 for Bulgaria and Latvia; 2013 or 2014 for Poland; 2014 for Romania. The Czech Republic was set to join on 1 January 2010, but can no longer do so due to economic conditions. A new date has not been set, it will probably not be before 2012. Hungary has also abandoned its original target date 2010, without any new date.

On 16 May 2006 the European Commission recommended Slovenia to become a new member of the eurozone. This occurred on 1 January 2007. On May 2007 the European Commission recommended the same for Cyprus and Malta and occurred from 1 January 2008.

Showing the ability to move towards full economic and monetary union is one requisite of "good membership". The ECB and European Commission produce reports every two years analysing the economic and other conditions of non-eurozone EU members, reporting on their suitability for joining the eurozone. The first to include the 10 new members was published in October 2004. [ cite web
url = http://www.ecb.int/pub/convergence/html/index.en.html
title = Convergence Report
accessdate = 2006-09-12
publisher = European Central Bank

ee also

* Opt-outs in the European Union
* Convergence criteria
* Introduction of the euro
* Enlargement of the European Union
* History of the European Union


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