*Many companies in the region have taken out loans in euros due to better interest rates. In Hungary euro-denominated retail and household loans are dramatically on the rise. Seventy percent of new corporate loans last year were in a foreign currency, predominantly euros, according to the Hungarian Financial Supervisory Authority.
"The most important reasons ... are companies' confidence in the stability of the forint exchange rate and the difference between the relatively high interest rate on forint loans and the relatively low interest rate on foreign currency denominated loans," it said in a recent report.
In 2004, 44.5 percent of all corporate loans were foreign currency denominated (mostly euros), up from 35 percent in 2002, while 14.5 percent of household loans were foreign currency denominated, up from 2.9 percent in 2002, the authority said.
In Slovakia train and plane tickets abroad, taxi fares and restaurant and hotel bills can all be paid in euros. A Slovenian public opinion poll rated the euro the most trusted "institution".
Tourist-orientated companies in Slovenia can legally accept euros. Shops near the Italian or Austrian border and petrol stations and motorway toll stations countrywide also accept euros.
In Lithuania the law already allows payments in euros and some retailers post prices in euros. In Estonia, even though accepting euros is illegal, shops display prices both in kroons and euros, to ensure a smooth transition to the euro, which Estonia plans to adopt in 2007, and customers get receipts in both currencies.