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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Slovenia given euro green light
Euro note
Slovenians are about to get their fourth currency in 15 years
European Union finance ministers have cleared Slovenia's entry into the eurozone, the last legal hurdle before it adopts the euro next January.

They confirmed the political decision made by EU leaders in June, making Slovenia the first of the trade bloc's new members to take up the currency.

It will join the 12-member eurozone on 1 January 2007, with an exchange rate of 239.64 Slovene tolars to the euro.

Slovenia was one of 10 new EU members that joined on 1 May, 2004.

At that time many of the new entrants set themselves ambitious timetables for the adoption of the single European currency.

Slovenia has met eurozone criteria for public debt, budget deficit, interest rates and inflation levels.

Lithuania's application for euro membership was rejected because its inflation rate was too high, while Hungary has put back its date for entry after its budget deficit ballooned.

Economic boost

The euro will be Slovenia's fourth form of legal tender since splitting from Yugoslavia in 1991, when it dropped the dinar for a transitional currency before adopting the tolar.

The Slovenian central bank will have to distribute 155 million euro coins and 42 million bank notes by 1 January, with just a two-week transition period during which the currency will circulate alongside the tolar.

The government hopes that euro membership will boost tourism and foreign investment in the small Alpine state of just under two million people.

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