The probability of Estonia joining the euro area at the start of 2011 is increasing by the day. The changeover will bring about many significant changes and concerns for ordinary people. The Eurobarometer survey (September 2009, 8000 respondents) shows that the most common concerns in the EU Member States who have not yet joined the euro are as follows: joining the euro will result in price increases and fraud.
However, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia, so far the latest countries that have joined the euro area, have demonstrated that these risks can be successfully managed with effective prevention and adjustment of the legal space.
Director General of the Consumer Protection Board Andres Sooniste said: “Price monitoring is an option of prevention where consistent price reviews and provision of information to the public make it possible to increase pressure on merchants and service providers to prevent unreasonable price increases.”
In addition to price monitoring, companies will be obliged to display prices in two currencies from 1 July. The purpose of this is to allow consumers to get used to the changing price numbers and to compare prices in different currencies to avoid the emergence of possible miscalculations and problems after the changeover. The role of the Consumer Protection Board in this will be that of a supervisor and assessor, who will be paying attention mainly to the correct presentation of prices and adherence to rounding rules. It is planned to perform these activities with voluntary associations of consumers.
The Consumer Protection Board has been conducting monthly price reviews, which concern almost 90 convenience goods and services, since 2005 in order to compare prices and the changes therein. The objective of this is to regularly publish the prices of products checked on a random basis. The Board increased the list of reviewed products and services considerably as a result of Estonia's new attempt to join the euro area in 2011. Jõhvi and Kuressaare were also added to the three cities where prices had been monitored so far (Tallinn, Tartu, Viljandi).
The price review, which was broadened by the Consumer Protection Board in April, covers approximately 150 different goods and services. The list includes the most important food products, some convenience goods, vehicle fuel and pharmacy products. The services included in the selection are tax service, dry-cleaning, hair cutting and car parking. The prices of the most widely used banking services for private clients (cash withdrawal, transfer fees, etc.) are also reviewed.
The monthly price reviews are published in their entirety on the Consumer Protection Board's website http://www.tka.riik.ee/hinnavaatlused-2/.
Shorter versions of the price reviews are published in the last Maaleht of every month.