Saar Poll survey mapped expectations of Estonian residents about transition to euro

A focus group survey conducted by the survey company Saar Poll was introduced in the Ministry of Finances on June 9.
29. 06. 2010
 

The goal of the survey was to map the attitudes, expectations and fears in selected target groups in relation to the transition to the euro. The survey was ordered by the Ministry of Finances and the State Chancellery, and was conducted in April and May of this year.The survey was ordered by the Ministry of Finances and the State Chancellery, and was conducted in April and May of this year.

The survey by Saar Poll indicated that the residents of Estonia consider the euro to be a stable and sure currency and expect the transition to surely increase the competitiveness of Estonia and the trust of foreign investors towards Estonia. On a personal level, the residents see the larger benefits from the coming of the euro as more convenient travelling, less expenses from currency exchange, and the comparability of the local prices to the rest of the euro area.

The survey by Saar Poll proved that the activity plan of the state addresses the issues raised in the focus group survey. The survey also indicated that many small entrepreneurs have probably not yet started preparations for the transitioning to the euro because it is still a rather vague event for them.

“The purpose of our communication activities is to ensure that the necessary information about the transitioning to the euro reaches all entrepreneurs and that they start preparations in due time,” said Ingvar Bärenklau, Project Manager of Euro Communications. “This week we sent a mass e-mail to entrepreneurs, in order to notify them about the practical aspects of the transitioning to the euro and about the obligation to indicate parallel prices which will enter into force on July 1.”

The results of the survey also allow concluding that the Russian-speaking population of the Ida-ViruCounty has a doubting attitude towards the coming of the euro, but that the use of the euro is generally familiar to them. This means a need to inform the Russian-speaking population even more about the transition to the euro. It has already been taken into account in the euro communication plans.

But the survey also indicates that the pensioners of South Estonia would not currently want to replace the kroon with the euro, because they feel insecure in the face of changes. Bärenklau acknowledged that this is a relatively expected attitude, because seniors have traditionally been conservative in their attitudes towards all changes. At the same time it is clear that meetings with pensioners and comprehensive explaining of the transition will help to reduce the fears.     

The target groups involved in the survey also expressed a concern about a possible increase of prices. According to Bärenklau, it is important to be aware that the coming of the euro in itself will not cause any price increases, because the transition will take place according to the current official exchange rate and all prices in kroons are required to be rounded to euros precisely on the basis of the valid exchange rate and the mathematical rule of rounding. As a measure for ensuring an undistorted price formation, all traders will be obliged to indicate their prices in sales outlets in parallel as kroon amounts and euro amounts, for six months before the transition to the euro, i.e. from July 1. The proper performance of this obligation will be inspected by the consumer Protection Board. Entrepreneurs will also enter into an Honest Price Formation Agreement in August, thus undertaking to refrain from using the transition to the euro for artificial price distortions.

The survey was conducted in the form of six focus group interviews; the target groups of the survey were small-scale entrepreneurs of Tallinn and Tartu, non-Estonians of the Ida-ViruCounty, pensioners from South Estonia, and residents of Tallinn having low income. In case of both small-scale entrepreneurs and people with low income, the Estonian-speaking and the Russian-speaking target groups were interviewed separately. See the results of the survey: Report of focus groups.

There is comprehensive information available about transitioning to the euro in Estonia at the Euroveeb website, which includes practical information about currency exchange procedures, price rounding, exchange rate and also about details of contracts and accountancy. There is also a free-of-charge Euroinformation telephone number 800 3330, which answers calls in both Estonian and Russian language.