EU leaders have allowed Slovakia to adopt the Euro currency in January 2009, based on the European Commission and ECB report that the nation has met the economic guidelines for joining the EU.
EU leaders gave Slovakia the greenlight on Thursday to adopt the euro next January, lifting an obstacle along the former communist country's path to the shared currency club.
"Today, the leaders of the EU member states confirmed Slovakia's readiness to join the eurozone on 1 January 2009," the European Union's Slovenian presidency said in a statement at a summit in Brussels.
"Slovakia will thus become the sixteenth member of the eurozone and the fourth to join from the group of countries that became EU members in 2004," it added.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico hailed the decision in Brussels.
"This is a great success as it is the first time that a (country in a transition to a market) economy became in (a) short time, not only a member of the EU and Schengen, but also a member of the countries with (the) shared currency," Fico said.
EU finance ministers, who have already given informal backing, must now give Slovakia the formal go-ahead in July, when they are also due to set the definitive exchange rate between the euro and the koruna.
The European Commission and the European Central Bank said last month that Slovakia met the tough economic criteria for joining, lifting the biggest obstacle to Bratislava's ambitions.
Slovaks are divided, however, about being the first central European nation to join the eurozone, with many of the nearly 5.5-million strong population fearful the currency switch could drive up inflation.
In its report last month on Slovakia's euro readiness, the ECB expressed "considerable concerns" about inflation in the country.
Date created : 2008-06-20