The new year brought a new currency to Malta and Cyprus, which today became the 14th and 15th countries to adopt the euro. The changeover went smoothly, the EC said in a statement. "Both Cyprus and Malta are small, open and thriving economies for whom having a stable and widely used currency will provide a major advantage," an economist told Bloomberg.
Malta and Cyprus will now have representatives on the European Central Bank's governing council, giving them a voice in setting interest rates. To prepare for the transition, Cypriot officials sent out 300,000 currency converters, and the Maltese government established a phone hotline and special centers, the AP reports. The northern, Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus will retain the Turkish lira.