By Iaonnis Solomou
Nicosia, Feb 9 : The European Central Bank (ECB) has described the switchover to euro in Cyprus and Malta as " smooth and successful".
The two Mediterranean countries adopted the single European currency on January 1st, becoming the 14th and 15 member states of the euro area.
The Cyprus pound and the Maltese liri were circulating in January together with the euro, but as from February 1st the period of dual circulation ended and the euro became the sole legal tender in the two countries.
A statement issued this week by the ECB said that the changeover was smooth and successfully completed. "The cash changeover evolved in both countries as planned and no unforeseen circumstances occurred. Hence there was no need for the changeover plans to be adjusted," the ECB noted.
Because of the consistent withdrawal of the national banknotes and extensive frontloading of euro banknotes, around half of the banknotes in circulation in both countries were euro banknotes by the end of the first day. Around 80% of the national banknotes have now been withdrawn from circulation in both countries, the ECB said.
What is remarkable is that there were no major counterfeiting attacks during the cash changeover. "The general response of the public to cash changeover has been very positive in both countries," the ECB statement concluded.