ENP Newswire - 24 July 2014
Release date- 23072014 - Today the European Union General Affairs Council of Ministers has adopted the final decision on Lithuania's participation in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) from 1 January 2015.
From this date Lithuania will become the 19th full-fledged member of the eurozone, which will start using the euro as the single currency of the European Union.
The irrevocably fixed conversion rate of the litas to the euro has also been approved: EUR 1 = LTL 3. 45280. This ratio is the same as the current official exchange rate between the litas and the euro fixed by the Bank of Lithuania even in February 2002, when the litas was pegged to the euro.
These decisions have completed the procedure of Lithuania's acceptance into the eurozone.
At the beginning of June the European Commission and the European Central Bank announced that Lithuania meets the Maastricht criteria and is ready to join the eurozone from 1 January 2015. On 20 June 2014 the Council of the Economic and Finance Ministers of the European Union (ECOFIN) approved this opinion. At the end of June the European Council supported the decision on the adoption of the euro in Lithuania from 1 January 2015, and on 16 July the European Parliament approved it by an overwhelming majority.
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius stated: 'We appreciate the coming of the euro not only as an economic security guarantor but also as a possibility to pursue greater financial stability in our country and to further develop the economy in a sustainable and harmonious way. It means new job creation, growth of personal income and increasing competitiveness of the country'.
According to Lithuanian Finance Minister Rimantas SadZius, Lithuania's membership in the eurozone is the natural development stage of the State. 'For almost a decade, from the very beginning of Lithuania's membership in the the European Union, Lithuania was striving for this goal, by reforming its economy, strengthening the financial system, at the same time creating a reliable and disciplined image of the country at international level. We will responsibly continue these works and being the members of the eurozone we will together aim at sharing our best practices and using the advantages provided by the Economic and Monetary Union', the Minister of Finace affirmed.
'In a few months by joining the eurozone Lithuania at the same time will join the Banking Union and a single banking supervisory mechanism. This means not only additional safeguards but also additional guarantees for the banks operating in the country, which, when encountered temporary difficulties, would have a possibility to use financial resources of the European Central Bank. These factors will even more strengthen the national financial system, its reliability, and this is important both for financial institutions and their customers', Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania Vitas Vasiliauskas stated. According to the Law on the Euro Adoption in the Republic of Lithuania, no later than 30 calendar days after the determination of the conversion rate, the prices of goods and services at their publication sites are to be displayed both in litas and in euro.