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Latvia gets all-clear to adopt euro currency

By Andra Kunstberga. 05.06.2013

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The EU gives Latvia the all-clear to adopt the euro from January 1, 2014.

In seven months’ time, Latvia will have changed the lat for the euro. The European Union gave it the all-clear today to adopt the euro from January 1, 2014.

For Latvia, it is an astonishing achievement coming just a few years after its people experienced one of the steepest economic contractions Europe has seen since World War II. For the EU, it’s a signal to investors that the Eurozone is continuing to expand rather than disintegrate.

Latvia will be the 18th country in the EU to use the single currency. Neighboring Estonia adopted the euro in 2011. To the south, Lithuania aims to join the Eurozone in 2015.

EU finance ministers will make the formal decision to endorse today’s positive recommendation of Latvia by the European Commission at a meeting on July 9.

“We have concluded that Latvia is ready to adopt the euro on January 1, 2014,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said at a news conference. “Latvia's desire to adopt the euro is a sign of confidence in our common currency. Those who predicted a disintegration of the euro [...] were simply wrong.”

To succeed in its long-term policy goal of adopting the euro, Latvia had to meet five entry criteria, namely low inflation, low interest rates, low public debt, low deficits and a stable exchange rate.

The European Central Bank also gave Latvia a positive assessment, but it warned that high foreign deposits in the country’s banks were a risk to stability.

Another risk is the unpopularity of the euro among the people of Latvia. The most recent polls show 38% support for euro adoption. The government has promised to work harder to explain the benefits of the European currency to its people.

The euro was launched as a currency on January 1, 2002. It is currently used by around 330 million people and quickly became a major reserve currency.


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