Lithuania is ready to join the euro from 2015 and will become the 19th country to do so. This is the message that the European Commission sent on Wednesday as it released its 2014 Convergence Report, an assessment of how ready eight member states are to join the single currency.
Under eurozone rules, a country prepared to adopt the euro must have government debt of less than 60% of its GDP, a budget deficit of less than 3% and low inflation.
“Euro adoption will be a major, hard-earned and well-deserved achievement for Lithuania and its people. But it should be seen as a starting line rather than a finishing line. It will be essential to continue with sound economic policies in order to ensure a smooth successful performance within the euro area – and realise the full benefits of monetary union and minimise risks in the future.” said EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.
According to the Commission, the remaining seven EU countries that still remain outside the euro zone, like the Czech republic, Poland or Sweden, do not meet all of the criteria to adopt the currency.
EU finance ministers will adopt the formal decision of including Lithuania in the euro area around mid July, when a conversion rate between the litas and the euro will be agreed.
“Lithuania’s readiness to adopt the euro reflects its long-standing support for prudent fiscal policies and economic reforms. That reform momentum, driven in part by Lithuania's EU accession ten years ago, has led to a striking increase in Lithuanians’ prosperity: the country’s per capita GDP has risen from just 35% of the EU28 average in 1995 to a projected 78% in 2015." Rehn added.
With Lithuania's addition of 3.4 million people, the euro area will have a total population of 336 million citizens.