EC: Nicosia is well prepared for euro

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Cyprus and Malta are well prepared in practical terms to adopt the euro from the start of next year, the European Commission said yesterday. The two small Mediterranean islands will increase the number of countries using the single currency to 15, becoming the second and third of the 10 European Union newcomers that joined in 2004 to switch to the euro. Slovenia did so this year. «The final practical preparations are well under way and banks, retailers and consumers seem ready for a changeover,» the European Union’s executive body said in a statement. The two countries will boost the number of people using the euro by 1.18 million to almost 320 million. Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres reiterated it was too early to say whether Slovakia would meet its goal of adopting the euro in 2009. She added the Commission understood from various statements that all other EU newcomers planned to join the eurozone between 2010 and 2014.