Cyprus, Malta euro prospects

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Cyprus and Malta could meet the tough economic criteria to join the eurozone in 2008, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said yesterday. «According to the Commission’s fall forecasts published today, the two countries will meet the criteria for inflation, debt and deficits,» Almunia said at a news conference. In order to join the eurozone, candidates must meet strict macroeconomic requirements on public finances, inflation, interest and exchange rates. If the two Mediterranean islands tried to join the currently 12-nation eurozone in 2008, they would first have to make an official request by the beginning of next year. It would then be up to the Commission and the European Central Bank to decide if they made the grade.