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An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011
An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs