Latvia is coming out of the crisis as one of the EU's fastest growing economies and it wants to use it experience to help find solutions for the whole euro zone once it joins in January 2014. Finance minister Andris Vilks and central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs explained the EP's economic committee on 26 February why their country was so keen to join the euro. "We do not want to wait for the euro crisis to pass," said Mr Vilks. "We want to participate and solve the problems together."
The country embarked on structural reforms after it experienced one of the sharpest downturns in economic output among European countries in 2008 and 2009. Mr Vilks said continuing the reforms was key to his country's success. "It is important to combine fiscal prudence with growth-friendly reforms. In Latvia, we are doing this," he said.
Mr Rimšēvičs pointed out that Latvia has met all criteria for euro accession since September 2012. The central bank governor said there was power in numbers: "In 2008-09 Latvia was punished as it stood alone to speculative attacks (on the currency). If we were on a bigger ship, the storm would have passed more easily."
MEPs praised the country for its growth-oriented reforms. German EPP member Burkhard Balz, who is responsible for drafting Parliament's opinion on Latvia's accession to the euro, said: "The way you've dealt with the crisis sets an exceptionally good example for everyone."
Some MEPs expressed concerns about the lukewarm public support for the euro but the two Latvian officials argued that more communication and positive news from the euro zone would ensure that public opinion is in favour of the move by the end of the year.