On tuesday, March 23, a meeting of the National Changeover Committee took place in the Ministry of Finance, where the working groups presented an overview of the developments of the past month. The committee discussed the fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria and introduced the upcoming assessment of Estonia's convergence programme.
The committee stated that the latest data and assessments support the sustainable fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria. The official assessment regarding the fulfilment of the Maastricht criteria will be disclosed in the convergence reports of the European Commission and the European Central Bank to be published in May. Statistics Estonia will reveal the specific government sector’s data regarding 2009 on March 26.
As for technical preparations, according to the committee the most important development was the introduction of the laws regarding the changeover to the Riigikogu for legislative procedure. Another important milestone was the communication strategy that was completed under the guidance of the euro communications working group, which was also approved by the National Changeover Committee today.
In March, the National Changeover Committee submitted the amended version of the National Changeover Plan to the Estonian Government for approval. The committee also submitted their regular management report to the Government.
The Chair of the National Changeover Committee, Tea Varrak, emphasised the crucial role of awareness activities in order to guarantee a smooth changeover. “The state must do everything in its power to ensure that various groups of the society and companies would be aware of the most comfortable currency exchange options and the appearance of our new currency, and that they would get accustomed to prices displayed in euro early on. Therefore, the communication strategy focuses on the practical aspects of the euro adoption to make the changeover as easy as possible”, Varrak said.
“The state must make changes in information systems to guarantee a smooth changeover. The National Changeover Committee is carefully monitoring the preparations of government agencies in achieving the euro-readiness of information systems”, Varrak added.
The National Changeover Committee was convened on December 9, 2004 by the Government of the Republic. It deals with the coordination of topics related to the introduction of the euro and manages the working groups responsible for the respective areas.
The committee has convened seven working groups: cash and settlements (Eesti Pank and credit institutions), business environment, public sector technical readiness, consumer protection, legal matters, communications, and the calculation and compliance surveillance of the changeover criteria. The members of the working groups are area experts from the public as well as the private sector.