Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

Euro membership is 'guiding light' for Latvia reform

The euro has been "a guiding light" for economic reform, Latvia's central bank governor told MEPs on Tuesday (26 February)

Speaking at a hearing with MEPs on the European Parliament's Economic committee, Ilmars Rimsevics, the Governor of Latvia's central bank, described the eurozone as "a stable and big ship" adding that "Latvia would like to join that".

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Latvia - the eurozone's next member? (Photo: European Commission)

Rimsevics and Andris Vilks, the country's finance minister, were pushing Latvia's credentials as part of the government's bid to join the eurozone at the start of 2014. The Baltic country would become the 18th member of the eurozone and the first new country to join since neighbouring Estonia joined the currency club in 2011.

Vilks said that Latvia wanted to be part of the political response to the eurozone debt crisis. "We do not want to wait for the euro crisis to pass," he said, adding that "we want to participate and solve the problems together."

The Latvian economy is one of the few success stories in the EU, growing by 5.2 percent in 2012, according to the European Commission's Winter Forecast making it the fastest growing economy in the EU. With a budget deficit of 1.5 percent and net government debt standing at 42 percent of GDP, Latvia comfortably passes the test posed by the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP).

Last month, the Latvian parliament adopted laws enshrining the balanced budget 'golden rule' set out in the fiscal compact treaty in national law. The bill requires EU governments to keep debt and deficit levels below the 60 percent and 3 percent thresholds in the SGP.

It has also established a changeover timetable to switch from the Lat to the Euro.

Latvia's economic output fell by 17.7 percent in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis. It was the sharpest economic contraction in the EU. Although the crisis led the country to request a €7.5 billion bailout from the IMF, Latvia required only €4.5 billion of the rescue package.

Referring to this, Rimsevics commented that "by not being in the eurozone in 2008, Latvia unfortunately had to go through quite a deep and severe economic and financial crisis."

Public opinion is currently divided on whether to adopt the single currency. Rimsevics conceded that around 30 percent were in favour of euro membership compared to 33 percent against. He said that the government was "determined to increase support to 50 percent by summer this year."

Latvia's euro membership bid is likely to be widely supported by MEPs who will table a consultative report before government ministers decide on the issue.

Centre-right MEP Jean-Paul Gauzès said that joining the euro would send "a message of hope and trust for this country that has made remarkable efforts to master the crisis, to relaunch growth and fight unemployment."

Meanwhile, Burkhard Balz, the German centre-right deputy tasked with drafting Parliament's opinion, said that Latvia's response to the crisis - consisting of harsh spending cuts - sets an "exceptionally good example for everyone."

Interview

Polish government in bid to defund NGOs

Ruling Law and Justice has promised to overhaul the NGO sector. The move could strain relations with Norway, a major donor to Polish civic life.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Davis brings Brexit back to reality

Brexiteers will be shocked to hear the government is considering slaughtering the sacred cow, offering up contributions to the EU budget in exchange for market access.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security