EU gives Latvia green light for euro membership
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
The illuminated EURO sign is seen in front of the European Central Bank, ECB in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on January 10, 2013. AFP photoEconomy and finance ministers from the 28 European Union countries gave the final green light to Latvia on Tuesday to join the eurozone on January 1 2014.
"ECOFIN has taken final decision approving Latvia's euro membership from 2014," the EU's current Lithuanian presidency announced via its Twitter account.
"Yes we are joining the euro as of January 1 next year," said Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, adding it was "good news not only for Latvia but also for Europe and the eurozone." Heading into the ECOFIN council's meeting earlier, Latvian Finance Minister Andris Vilks had described it as a "symbolic day".
Asked whether he had any qualms about joining the single currency at such a difficult time, Vilks acknowledged that "those hard times will last several years at least".
Latvia emerged from a crisis in 2008-09 to become the EU's fastest-growing economy, having posted GDP growth of more than five percent year-on-year in both 2011 and 2012.