Estonia's euro switchover

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Estonia's euro switchover

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There are mixed feelings in Estonia as it becomes the 17th country to join the euro at the start of the new year.

Preparations are all in place for the switchover.

It should not make much difference to prices which have been marked in both Estonia’s currency, the kroon, and the euro for the past year.

In addition the kroon has been fixed to the euro since Estonia became the first ex-Soviet state to quit the rouble zone in 1992.

One shopper in the capital, Tallinn, said she was looking forward to it: “I think joining the euro zone is very good and it makes life easier.”

Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi said he understands the concerns over the euro but felt it was the best thing for Estonia. He pointed out: “It’s better to be inside the boat than outside, when it’s stormy.”

The government said it was confidence that adopting the euro would boost trade and therefore the economy but opinion polls showed the country evenly divided when people were asked about support for the changeover.

An anti-campaigner with the appropriate name of Anti Poolamets, said he fears economic disaster: “Estonia joins at the worst possible time, when the European president is saying that the whole European project is under threat.”

Fellow Baltic states Latvia and Lithuania have set their sights on euro entry in 2014, but bigger eastern European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic are wary of the effects of the recent crisis in the euro zone.