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Latvia becomes 18th member of eurozone

Europe
31.12.2013
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Riga (dpa) - The Baltic state of Latvia became the 18th member of the eurozone at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, which also marks the 15th anniversary of the launch of the single currency in 1999.

A European Union member since 2004, Latvia‘s 2 million citizens brings the number of people in Europe using the euro to 333 million.

"I am delighted to welcome Latvia as the 18th member of the euro area. This is a major event, not only for Latvia, but for the euro area itself, which remains stable, attractive and open to new members," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.

On the brink of bankruptcy in 2008, Latvia overcame its crisis through strict economic reforms to become the second Baltic country to adopt the currency. Neighbouring Estonia joined in 2011 and Lithuania is to sign on in 2015.

To make the transition as seamless as possible, 22 branches of the country‘s three largest banks will be open on the afternoon of January 1, and nearly all automatic teller machines will distribute euro banknotes within the first 30 minutes of the new year.

The average Latvian has been unenthusiastic about the euro, with barely half of the country‘s inhabitants expressing support for euro accession in a recent poll.

 

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