Euro changeover success in Cyprus

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The switch to the euro currency in Cyprus and Malta this year has so far been successful, European Union Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said yesterday. «The adoption of the euro in Cyprus and Malta is proceeding very swiftly. This is testimony to the good preparations beforehand for which all involved in the two countries, starting with their respective governments, must be congratulated,» Almunia said in a statement. He reiterated that the two Mediterranean islands, which increased eurozone membership to 15 countries among the EU-27, should continue to push ahead with sound fiscal polices to benefit fully from membership in the currency area. Almunia said that on January 5, almost three out of four cash payments in shops in the two countries were made in euros. While there were some queues in banks and shops on the first days of 2008 and after a busy first week which also included the start of the winter sales in Malta, the situation was getting back to normal. The statement said so far only a few incidents of undue price increases have been reported, for example for parking fees, cinema tickets and doctors’ fees. The countries’ authorities are investigating and asking those responsible to revert to the former prices where necessary. The statement urged consumers to report any cases of unfair pricing to the authorities or consumer associations.