EU ministers back Estonia bid to join euro

image captionEstonia is joining the euro as markets worry about Greece leaving it

EU finance ministers have backed Estonia's bid to become the eurozone's 17th member on 1 January 2011.

The tiny Baltic state has fixed its currency - the kroon - to the euro ever since the single currency's inception in 1999.

For years, the ex-Communist country was unable to fully join the euro, as its inflation rate was deemed too high.

But thanks to the global recession, the country has finally met the eurozone's inflation criterion.

A final, formal decision by EU heads of government heads whether to accept Estonia will be made on 13 July.

The endorsement came as EU finance ministers met to hammer out an agreement on how to tackle the eurozone crisis.

Unlike many existing eurozone members, Estonia has stayed within the euro's criteria on budget deficits and total government debt for several years.

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