Lithuania has fulfilled all conditions to join the eurozone, the European Commission said Wednesday, recommending that the country become the currency bloc’s 19th member on January 1.
“Lithuania’s readiness to adopt the euro reflects its long-standing support for prudent fiscal policies and economic reforms,” EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn said.
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius predicted that the accession would be a step towards “deeper economic, financial and political national security,” pointing to “the circumstances that formed near the borders of Lithuania.” The country and its eastern European neighbours have said they feel threatened by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including its annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Lithuanian officials also acknowledged, however, that more work lies ahead for the country’s litas to be successfully exchanged for the European currency.
“We must ensure that the euro is welcomed by the residents, and its arrival is smooth,” Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius said.
Lithuania would be the last Baltic nation to adopt the euro, after Estonia did so in 2011 and Latvia followed suit at the beginning of 2014.