On 1 May 2004 ten new Member States - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia – joined the European Union. Two years and eight months later, on 1 January 2007, the EU welcomed Bulgaria and Romania.
The new countries will adopt the euro only when they fulfil certain economic criteria, namely, a high degree of price stability, a sound fiscal situation, stable exchange rates and converged long-term interest rates. The current euro area members had to fulfil the same criteria.
The European Central Bank contributes to the decision-making on future euro area members by preparing convergence reports in which it analyses whether the countries concerned fulfil the necessary conditions for adoption of the euro.
The Governors of the central banks of the new EU countries are now members of the General Council of the ECB but they will not join the main decision-making body - the Governing Council - until they adopt the euro. The Member States central banks’ experts are also members of the committees of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB).