News / Europe

    Estonia Adjusts to Euro Amid Concerns Over Currency's Future

    An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011
    An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011

    The people of Estonia are adjusting to a new way of payment after their nation became the first former Soviet Union state to dump its own currency and adopt the euro on New Year's Day. Government officials have warned however that concerns over the future of the single European currency put off bigger eastern European countries from joining, for up to a decade. 

    Crowds in Estonia's capital Talinn have braved freezing temperatures to sing and dance - many of them near cash machines, where they curiously look at their new currency, the euro.

    Tallinn has also become a 2011 European Capital of Culture.

    Yet critics are still in doubt over whether dumping the country's kroon was the right move for this Baltic state of just 1.3 million people.

    Kirsi Altonen, who is originally from Finland, expresses mixed emotions about the euro.

    "I suppose that the prices will go up in Estonia. But it's easier of course to travel from Finland and so on. But...",

    There are also skeptics in other Eastern European countries, such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

    They no longer seem in a hurry to join the club of 17 nations comprising the 'euro zone', saying they first want to see how debt problems are solved in troubled Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

    Polish central bank governor Marek Belka has told local media that Poland would only join when there was "order" in the euro zone. He sees no reason to rush as, in his words, "there are dramatic things happening".

    Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas says introducing the euro would not benefit his country for a long time.

    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban agrees. He says Hungary's introduction of the euro may be as many as 10 years away.

    Mr. Orban says he does not want to give an exact date as many euro target dates were mentioned, and missed. But the prime minister admits that in his words
    the introduction of the euro in Hungary "does not seem realistic before the end of the decade."

    Analysts had earlier mentioned 2016 as a realistic date for Hungary and said larger eastern nations such as Poland may not join before 2020.

    Experts say several Eastern European countries fear introducing the euro would make them less competitive as it involves losing flexibility exchange rates.

    The debt crisis faced by several EU member states has also undermined a popular idea that being a euro zone member guarantees easy access to cash and lower borrowing costs.

    But Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi denies that Hungary has abandoned the euro. He says the government wants to assist in helping to stabilize the euro zone during Hungary's European Union presidency, which began on New Year's Day.

    "We shouldn't believe that the euro is [only] for the euro zone countries. The euro is a matter for all of us. If the euro gets weaker, if the euro is in danger, we are all in danger," said Martonyi. "And we all have to be fully aware that we know that Europe's strength, Europe's economic and political power, Europe's projection, Europe's ideas all depend upon a healthy and strong economic situation as reflected by a healthy and strong and save currency."

    European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, makes clear that the euro zone will face many challenges in the coming years.

    "Last decade to the past decade was the decade of turning [the euro] into reality," he said. "And the present decade which is now starting will be the decade of the fundamental reform of the euro area, of the economic and monetary union."

    Back in Talinn an elderly man, Tiit Toominte, who lived through the years when his country was part of the Soviet Union, has hopes for the euro currency. He sees the euro as key to doing business in the Baltics.

    When somebody will go abroad from Estonia and will look on the prices of different products [such as] shoes [and] clothes, he says, it will be easily possible to compare the differences with Estonia. He says he hopes commerce will improve thanks to this.

    If it's up to the European Commission, more Europeans will share his view.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.