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    An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011
    An Estonian woman holds one of the new Euro banknotes which she has just withdrawn from an ATM cash machine in Tallinn, Estonia, 01 Jan 2011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

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    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.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.