Vice-President of the European Commission and member of the Commission responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro
Vice President Rehn's press point with Latvian Finance Minister Andris Vilks
5 March 2013
Andris Vilks, the finance minister of Latvia, has just handed me his country’s formal request for a convergence report in view of Latvia’s aim of adopting the euro on 1 January 2014.
In line with the Treaty requirements, the Commission and the ECB will each make an objective and profound assessment of Latvia’s readiness to join the euro area. We will present the conclusions of our assessment in the Spring – by late May, early June.
Without prejudging in any way the outcome of the assessment, let me say this. Latvia’s decision to request entry to the euro area shows how much progress the country has made in getting its economy back on track, following the very deep economic crisis of 2008-2009.
Determined implementation of the EU-IMF-led financial assistance programme, which was successfully concluded last year in January 2012, helped to steer Latvia out of the very deep recession it had in 2008 and 2009. Latvia now has the fastest rate of GDP growth in the EU. It has the second highest rate of export growth in the EU. And it has steadily falling, if still high, unemployment. Latvia is in fact an example of how macroeconomic imbalances, however severe, can be successfully addressed and how a country can emerge stronger once such an adjustment is completed.
Let me also stress that Latvia’s request is another sign of confidence in the euro. We all remember the rampant speculation less than one year ago of a supposedly imminent break-up of the euro. Fortunately, that speculation did not diminish the determination of the Latvian government and the Latvian people to continue along the path of sound public finances and reforms to create the conditions necessary for sustainable growth and job creation and to prepare for euro accession.