Estonian Support for Euro Rises to Record, Even as Ireland Seeks Bailout

Estonian public support for the euro rose to a record this month as a government publicity campaign to prepare for adopting the single currency helped blunt concern about Ireland decision to seek an international bailout.

Fifty-four percent of those polled backed swapping the kroon for the euro on Jan. 1, with 36 percent opposing the move and 10 percent undecided, according to a survey of 502 people conducted Nov. 8-15 by local pollster Faktum&Ariko. Support for the change stood at 49 percent last month.

The Finance Ministry and European Commission this month sent a leaflet with details on the currency changeover and an exchange-rate calculator to all 561,000 Estonian households. The calculator was the main news on euro entry in the past month, Kalev Petti, head of research at Faktum, said today at a news conference in Tallinn.

“Concrete steps on conversion to the euro become more noticeable in everyday life, forcing people to get used to it and thereby boosting support for the ‘‘inevitable,’’ he said.

Finance Minister Jurgen Ligi said today he saw no risk of contagion for other euro-area nations as Ireland’s plan to seek European Union rescue funds threatens to escalate the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

‘‘Ireland is totally different from Greece,” Ligi said during a news conference in Tallinn. “Its problems are mainly banking related, while its economy is still very much competitive.”

2007 Record

Euro entry was backed by 51 percent of Estonians surveyed in September and 52 percent in July, when the Finance Ministry started commissioning the monthly Faktum polls, which have a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Support for the euro reached a record 52 percent in December 2007 before dropping to 47 percent last December, according to earlier polls commissioned by the Government Office.

The ministry said in July it wanted to boost public support for the euro to 65 percent. That goal is “unlikely” to be met, Tea Varrak, chancellor of the Finance Ministry, said this month. She cited “understandable” rise in nostalgia toward the kroon, adopted in 1992, as the main reason.

Support for the euro among Estonia’s Russian-speaking minority rose to 39 percent from 33 percent last month, the Faktum poll showed. The group makes up about 30 percent of Estonia’s 1.3 million inhabitants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net

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