Latvia to adopt euro as of Jan 1, 2014

Updated: 2013-07-09 20:34


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BRUSSELS - Latvia is set to to adopt the euro as its currency as of January 1, 2014, becoming the 18th member of the single currency area, according to a decision adopted by European Union (EU) finance ministers on Tuesday.

"From January 1 next year, Latvians can begin making purchases in euro," Olli Rehn, EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said at a press conference after a meeting of EU finance ministers.

Euro notes and coins will be issued in Latvia on January1, 2014, and the conversion rate is set at 0.702804 Latvian lats to one euro, Rehn said.

Latvia's formal adoption of the euro followed a series of decisions, starting with the euro area member states recommending on June 21 in favor of the European Commission's proposal to allow Latvia to join the currency union.

In the light of reports from the Commission and the European Central Bank, the European Council on June 27 and 28 welcomed the fact that Latvia had fulfilled all the "convergence criteria" set out in the EU Treaty and the Commission's proposal for it to join the euro.

The European Parliament gave a favorable opinion on the Commission's proposal to allow Latvia to join the eurozone on 3 July, the ECB on 5 July.

The Baltic nation, an EU member since 2004, has been looking to join the 17-member eurozone for several years. However, the decision has met with doubts about the timing of joining the currency area given the debt crisis it is still struggling with.

Latvia's finance minister Andris Vilks said in Brussels earlier Tuesday that Latvia is confident that it would reap the rewards from joining the eurozone despite the bloc's ongoing economic problems.

"The hard times will last for several years, no doubt about that. But we see a lot of benefits in the long term, in spite of today's environment," Vilks told reporters before attending the EU finance ministers' meeting.