European Parliament gives go-ahead for Lithuania to join the euro
Lithuania should join the euro on 1 January 2015, recommends the European Parliament in a resolution voted on Wednesday. This vote is in line with a European Commission recommendation and political backing from EU heads of state or government at the June EU Council summit. Parliament's recommendation was passed by 545 votes to 116, with 34 abstentions. It "endorses the adoption of the euro by Lithuania on 1 January 2015."
"This is good news for Lithuania, Baltic states and the stability of Europe. Since 2006 there has been intensive work, which led to low inflation, a stable exchange rate, a low budget deficit and an acceptable debt to GDP ratio. Welcome to the Eurozone Lithuania", said rapporter Werner Langen (EPP, DE).
MEPs welcome the fact that Lithuania has met all the euro eligibility criteria: recent 12-monthly average inflation 0.6 % (well below the reference value of 1.7%); a general government deficit in 2013 of 2.1% of GDP (reference value: 3%) and a gross debt ratio of 39.4% of GDP (well below the 60% reference value).
Lithuania is to become the 19th member of the Eurozone, after Latvia (2014), Estonia (2011), Slovakia (2009), Cyprus and Malta (2008), Slovenia (2007), Greece (2001), and Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland (1999).
The European Parliament plays a consultative role in scrutinising the fitness of prospective Eurozone countries. A final go-ahead is expected from EU General Affairs Council on 23 July.