Slovakia, the euro and collecting currency

The conversion to the euro in Europe was disappointing to me as a collector of currency. Check out some of my collection in this post: Collecting foreign money.

With the euro, the bills look the same amongst the participating nations and only the coins can be tailored to each country. For instance, Austria has a 1 euro coin with Mozart, Ireland has a coin with a harp and Italy has a coin with the Colosseum. These are nice, but really, I’d prefer a Schilling from Austria or a Lire from Italy.

When I was studying abroad in Salzburg in 2008, I made it a point to visit Slovakia before the new year, because on Jan. 1, 2009, Slovakia was introducing the euro, and I wanted some Slovak crowns. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, was a short and inexpensive train ride away from Vienna.

I haven’t been back to Slovakia since the currency change, which was much anticipated there. Physically, the country is probably much the same, but the change in currency would have been good for Slovakia’s economy.

Now there is talk of returning to Slovak currency because of the forced bailouts of Greece and Ireland.

Other recent members of the European Union, like Romania, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have not yet adopted the euro, and when adopting the euro means paying for economic recovery and government bailouts, it isn’t likely going to be a top priority.

In an AP story called “Euro turns to problem for Eastern Europe,” the author explains the anti-EU feelings many countries, including Slovakia are having.

“But anti-euro sentiment remains strong in a country that defied its partners earlier this year by refusing to provide its 800 million ($1.05 billion) share of the 110 billion ($145 billion) EU bailout loan for Greece.

“… With euro-skepticism extending into the top levels of government, Slovakia is among the most vocal of nations pressing for new rules that would force private investors, not only taxpayers, to pay their share. Under discussion is a so-called European Stability Mechanism, which would force private creditors to do just that by allotting them a share of the bailout burden if a nation is deemed insolvent.”

This skepticism isn’t new. I spent a lot of time in my political science class in Salzburg learning about the EU, how it functions and why some countries, notably Norway, don’t want to join the group or don’t want to give up their currency, like the United Kingdom.

I’m quite interested to see what happens with Slovakia and the other countries of Eastern Europe that are EU members or trying to become members.

But whatever happens, the currency collector in me can relax a bit, because I have at least one more year to get currency from the Eastern European countries that I am missing.

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