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Cyprus & Malta adopts Euro
04
Jan '08
The European Commission has praised the smooth changeover to the euro in the two newest eurozone member countries, Cyprus and Malta, while the effect on their overall inflation rates is to be evaluated later.

The two Mediterranean islands switched to the common European currency on 1 January, joining 13 other EU states that use with the euro.

According to an early survey by the EU executive, presented on Thursday (4 January), "all available evidence suggests that the changeover operation is proceeding very smoothly and without any noteworthy incidents."

The data showed that on 2 January, retailers gave change exclusively in euro in 92 percent (Cyprus) and 91 percent (Malta) of all cash transactions, although in Malta there were a few initial cases of shortage of change at retail outlets.

These shortages were particularly apparent on the very first day of the euro in the country, as banks were still closed and some customers were using up large amounts of Maltese lire banknotes to avoid having to exchange them at banks later.

The commission's survey also revealed that 42 percent of Maltese had only or mostly euro banknotes, and 52 percent only or mostly euro coins in their wallets on 2 January. In Cyprus, the respective figures were 43 percent for banknotes and 46 percent for coins.

When paying cash at shops, only a minority of both Cypriots (28%) and Maltese (36%) were already using the new currency but this compares favourably to the results of a similar survey conducted when Slovenia adopted the euro in 2007, when only one in five Slovene citizens (19%) paid in euro on the first working day.

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