Eurozone adds a member in tough times

June 18, 2010 at 11:29 AM

BRUSSELS, June 18 (UPI) -- Estonia's prime minister hailed the former Soviet state's entrance to the eurozone, despite economic troubles in the region.

"It's a great day for Estonia. We prefer to be inside, to join the club, to be among the decision-makers," Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told The New York Times.

The European Commission accepted Estonia, with its economic output of $17 billion, permission as the 17th state to adopt the euro as currency Thursday.

The European Union welcomed Estonia, praising its "sound economic and financial policies," the Times said.

The move is "a status issue for countries seeking to cement their position at Europe's top table," said Chief Economist Simon Tilford at the Center for European Reform.

The euro has fallen about 13 percent against the dollar this year while a debt crisis spread through the eurozone.

High debt in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Britain contributed to worries, culminating in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund assembling a $957 billion loan package for troubled countries and the passage of numerous austerity budget proposals.

Nevertheless, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland have lined up to join the eurozone, although no further additions are expected soon. Those countries are also struggling with high debt.

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