(Jan. 2, 2008) As of January 1, 2008, the national currencies of two European Union Members, the pound of Cyprus and the lira of Malta, have been replaced by the euro. Thus far, 15 out of the 27 EU Members share a common currency. The two countries became full-fledged EU Members on May 1, 2004, and upon meeting the necessary requirements, received permission to join the euro zone in May 2007. In an effort to speed the smooth transition from the national currency to the new one, prior to the introduction date the EU distributed many euro converters to households in the two nations.
The three British military bases that still exist on the island of Cyprus also had to adopt the euro. On the other hand, the northern part of Cyprus, which is under occupation by Turkey, will continue to use the Turkish lira.
Slovakia will adopt the euro in 2009; Bulgaria and Romania are the next expectant euro zone members, with target dates of 2010 and 2014, respectively. Of the older EU Members, only Denmark and the United Kingdom remain outside the euro zone on grounds of economic independence. (Cyprus and Malta Adopt the Euro, EU OBSERVER, Jan. 1, 2008.)