Lithuania to follow in Latvia's euro footsteps

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Latvia's southern neighbor and fellow Baltic nation Lithuania received backing Wednesday to become the eurozone's nineteenth member state on July 1, 2015, exactly one year after Latvia adopted the euro as its currency.

A vote in the European Parliament rubber-stamped the decision by 545 votes to 116, though the vote is classed only as a “recommendation” and a final decision is expected at a European Council meeting on July 23.

"Lithuania fulfils all the criteria. The government and the national parliament have worked hard over the last years", said MEP Werner Langen, the European Parliament's Rapporteur on Lithuania's adoption of the euro.

"Lithuania's accession to the euro is a strong signal for a strong common currency,” Langen said, words that have a familiar ring in Latvia where a six-month-long marketing campaign following its own euro approval failed to raise much public enthusiasm for the currency switch.

Nevertheless, in Latvia euro adoption went ahead smoothly and there have been few serious grumbles that the change was made, and a similar pattern is likely to be followed in Lithuania where opinion polls suggest the public is equally apathetic – in sharp contrast to the unbridled enthusiasm of policymakers.

Lithuanian Finance Minister told reporters the decision marked “a very important day for Lithuania.”

MEP Valdis Dombovskis, the former Prime Minister who masterminded Latvia's against-the-odds eurozone entry told the BNS news service having Lithuania in the single currency zone would “demonstrate the attractiveness of the region for investors” while the disappearance of currency exchange charges would also promote regional trade.

“This is particularly important for Latvia because Lithuania is our largest commercial partner,” Dombrovskis said.

When Lithuania does accede to the eurozone, all three Baltic states will share a single currency, after Estonia led the way in 2011.

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