EP committee gives Estonia euro nod

The European Parliament's Economics Committee has signalled it agrees with Estonia joining the eurozone as from January, approving a resolution drafted by Labour MEP Edward Scicluna.

The Baltic member state last month managed to get the endorsement of the European Commission to adopt the euro and the decision is expected to be approved by EU Finance Ministers next week.

Although, according to the EU Treaty, the EP does not have any say in the enlargement of the euro area, the committee said Estonia was ready to join the eurozone on January 1 despite the zone's debt crisis.

Estonia is expected to become the euro's 17th member state. Originally, it had planned to join the euro club in 2007, but it had postponed its target date twice due to high inflation.

"Against the backdrop of the economic and social crises, Estonia has fulfilled the criteria deemed necessary to join. In contrast to other eurozone members, Estonia has been a shining example of prudent fiscal policy," Sharon Bowles, head of the Parliament's Economic And Monetary Affairs Committee, said.

Estonia has consistently kept its state debt and deficit within eurozone limits, outperforming any of the zone's members over the last five years.

Some member states recently said it would be wrong to enlarge the eurozone during a crisis, but it is expected that Estonia's bid will finally sail through.

Next week's Finance Minister's decision is expected to be followed by EU leaders during their mid-year summit later on this month. The final decision will be taken on July 13.

Prof. Scicluna's report was adopted by 40 votes in favour, two against and one abstention. The plenary session will also take a vote.

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