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Thirteenth report on practical preparations for the euro: final countdown for Latvia

European Commission - MEMO/13/1083   03/12/2013

Other available languages: none

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 3 December 2013

Thirteenth report on practical preparations for the euro: final countdown for Latvia

There is only one month to go before Latvia’s €-day, 1 January 2014, when the country becomes the 18th member of the euro area. The Commission has adopted today the thirteenth report on the practical preparations for the changeover. The report concludes that Latvia's preparations are overall well advanced, while recommending further efforts in some areas during the final phase of the changeover.

Latvia has ordered 400 million euro coins bearing Latvian national sides and 110 million euro banknotes of various denominations for the introduction of euro cash. The euro coins are provided by the Staatliche Münzen Baden-Württemberg (Stuttgart, Germany). In line with the practice in recent changeovers, the banknotes have been borrowed from a National Central Bank in the euro area (Deutsche Bundesbank).

The Latvian Central Bank, Bank of Latvia, started to provide commercial banks with euro cash (so-called frontloading) on 1 November 2013. Commercial banks' major clients will receive euro cash as of 10 December 2013; smaller corporate clients using simplified sub-frontloading will be delivered euro cash as of 27 December 2013.

A total of 800,000 starter kits for the general public will be available as of 10 December 2013 via 339 branches of commercial banks, 302 post offices and the branches of the Bank of Latvia. The starter kits will each contain a mix of all Latvian euro coins denominations (value: 14.23 EUR). 70,000 specific kits for retailers (each containg 200 EUR) will be available as of 10 December 2013.

Starting on €-day, Bank of Latvia will change lats into euro for an unlimited period of time and free of charge at the official conversion rate (1 EUR = 0.702804 Latvian lats). Commercial banks will provide unlimited cash exchange services free of charge for six months after €-day and post offices for at least three months after €-day.

During the first two weeks of the changeover, Latvian lats and euro will circulate in parallel. Enterprises including supermarket chains will have an important role in the changeover as "de facto exchange offices".

In order to address consumers' concerns about price increases and abusive practices in the changeover period, a "Fair Euro Introducer" campaign was launched in July 2013 which invites businesses (e.g. retailers, financial institutions, internet shops) to commit not to misuse the changeover for their own profit, to respect the changeover rules and to provide the necessary assistance to their clients. This is a very important initiative and efforts to increase its coverage and impact should be kept up in the remaining weeks before the changeover.

Latvian authorities are rightly focusing their efforts on the practical aspects of the euro introduction on 1 January 2014 and the dual circulation period. A successful changeover should help to further increase public support for the euro, as was observed in other countries having recently adopted the euro.

A staff working document attached to the report looks at the state of preparations in the other Member States that have not yet adopted the euro (except the UK and Denmark, which have a formal opt-out from the single currency).

For the report and the staff working document see:

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/pdf/2013/thirteenth_report_on_the_practical_preparations_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/pdf/2013/2013-11-8_commission_staff_working_document_en.pdf

For more information see:

IP/13/500

MEMO/13/495


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