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It’s believed that this will be the last country added to the bloc for at least two year’s time as Lithuania joins neighbor Latvia and fellow former Soviet republic. The European Central Band and the European Commission said that the nation of roughly three million meets the legal and economic criteria to join after each group conducted their own independent assessments.
Algirdas Butkevicius, the Lithuanian prime minister, believes that the move “is one more step toward the deeper economic, financial and political national security.” Additionally, the move will bring Lithuania closer to Western Europe just as Russia has shown a willingness to exert its influence over former Soviet republics as it’s done in Crimea and elsewhere. Bukevicius added that the nation’s inclusion will bring a “better life for all the residents of the country.”
Lithuania: Easy transition?
Lithuania’s currency, the litas, has been tied to the euro for nearly a decade so ceding control of its monetary policy to European Central Bank should come with few hurdles and Vitas Vasiliauskas, the chairman of Lietuvos Bankas, the Lithuanian central bank, will become a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council.
Presently, there are eight European Union countries that are still outside the euro zone and it appears that potential members Hungary, Romania, and Sweden are still a ways away from meeting the standards for membership at a time that parties that are hostile to the European Union and wish to abandon the euro made big inroads in recent elections to the European Parliament last month. This was especially true in Germany, Denmark, France and Britain. Denmark and Britain have exemptions from euro zone membership while the other six countries still outside the zone are, in theory, mandated to seek membership.
The remaining seven
This movement towards participation in the European exchange rate mechanism has stalled in a number of countries of late. The prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, has recently been accused of moving further from membership by toying around with the country’s central bank. Sweden has also slowed its move since the beginning of the year.
“As yet no legislative action has been taken by the Swedish authorities to remedy the incompatibilities described in this and previous reports,” the E.C.B. said.
The Lithuanian finance minister, Rimantas Sadzius, said admission to the euro zone should deliver “greater confidence of foreign partners in the country” as well as “more favorable borrowing, lower unemployment, and growing income of the residents.”
Lithuania nearly joined the euro in 2007 seven but it’s inflation was 0.1% higher than allowed and concern existed regarding the levels of private debt in the Baltic country. The turned out to be quite prudent as Lithuania’s economy took a beating in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romany, Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic will each be reassessed in two years time.