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EU urges Cyprus to speed up euro preparations

The European Union urged Cyprus on Monday to speed up its preparations for adoption of euro in January 2008, in a bid to make the switch a success.

A European Commission report concluded that Cyprus has made good progress but must speed up the preparations while Malta's practical preparations are well advanced. The two Mediterranean island states have got final green light for the currency changeover earlier this month and have just five and a half months for the preparations.

"While the adoption of the euro requires the respect of the conditions set out in the Treaty, efficient and timely practical preparations play an important role for a smooth changeover," said Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. He added that both Cyprus and Malta must now finalize their preparations to ensure that the introduction of the euro is a success, as was the case in Slovenia.

"The euro communication campaign (in Cyprus) shall now gather full speed," the commission report urged, adding only this will ensure that the more vulnerable sections of population and the public at large understand the monetary change and become rapidly familiar with the euro coins and banknotes.

It pointed out that enhanced familiarity is key to raise awareness of the benefits of being part of the euro area and to give reassurance about the changeover process. Meanwhile, the commission praised Malta for its communication activities on the euro, which it concluded as "exceptionally comprehensive and of a very high quality." (