1st of January - Eurozone joined Latvia!

Latvia joins euro area

Ministry of Finances, 01.01.2014

With clock counting the first seconds of 2014, Latvia has become a member of the euro area and euro has become the official currency of the country. Shortly after the midnight Valdis Dombrovskis, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Andrus Ansip, the Prime Minister of Estonia, Andris Vilks, the Minister of Finance of Latvia and Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, the President of the Central Bank of Latvia, withdrew the first euro banknotes, marking the special occasion.

‘Introduction of single European currency will give our country a number of economic benefits. It will boost our economic growth, prosperity and raise our living standards. It will help us strengthen our national security and welfare. This step also bears geopolitical importance, as we join the currency that is used by more than 320 million citizens of Europe we become a full-fledged member of the European family and strengthen our national identity. Our Milda will now grace the coins of the second strongest currency in the world – the euro’, PM Valdis Dombrovskis underlines the importance of transition to euro.

‘Let me sincerely thank all population of Latvia. Without you it would not have been possible to join the euro area today. Introduction of euro in Latvia proves that we can and know how to cooperate. Transition to euro became possible only through active work of thousands of government, private and public sector employees. I would also like to congratulate all Latvians on the fact that we have the most beautiful euro-coins in the euro area’, says Andris Vilks, the Minister of Finance, in his address to those gathered at the celebratory event.

‘I am very happy that Latvia has the most beautiful euro-coins. Our people supported the idea of emblazoning euro-coins with the symbols of our national currency, the lat, that to me has been and will remain the world’s prettiest money’, says Ilmārs Rimšēvičs, the President of the Central Bank of Latvia.

Latvian people have received New Year greetings from several EU heads of state, including Presidents of France, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Greece, Prime Minister of Finland, former PM of Luxembourg and Chancellor of Austria.

Andrus Ansip, the Prime Minister of Estonia, was the first to congratulate Latvians through a special video, saying: ‘Dear, neighbours, euro will become our common currency from 1 January and Latvia will become a full-fledged member of one of the most powerful economic areas in the world!’ Whereas Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, says: ‘Euro is a strong, credible and stable currency. I very much appreciate all efforts, remarkable progress of Latvia, to join euro. And I want to say to you – Latvia, welcome to the euro zone!’

‘Latvia, warm welcome to the euro area’, says Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, in the video and Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Development, wishes: ‘Dear, Latvians, I am happy that Latvia begins this year with accession to euro area. It is fundamental to our national security, stability and growth. Latvia, welcome to euro zone! Happy New Year everyone!’

To watch full video of greetings from the heads of state and government of the EU and euro area countries, go to: http://youtu.be/Q3j0JvqHx9k

Pictures from the ceremonial withdrawal of first euro banknotes are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eirolatvija/sets/72157639252027354/ or http://www.flickr.com/photos/latvijasbanka/sets/72157639247504116/

Additional information

Latvia became the 18th country of the Eurozone and will share a currency with more than 332 million people. To ensure convenient cash circulation following the euro changeover starting from 1 January 2014, a two-week long dual circulation period of both currencies – lats and euros – are introduced. During this period it will be possible to pay for goods and services in both currencies.

The “Eurozone joins Latvia” events are organised by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Latvia in cooperation with the Bank of Latvia, State Chancellery and other governmental and nongovernmental authorities.

For more information, please contact:

Ināra Rubene
Ministry of Finance
Head of the Euro Communication Department
Phone: +371 6709 5417,e-mail: inara.rubene@fm.gov.lv
Lasma Trofimova
International Press Officer
+371 2648 0407