The European Union’s (EU) General Affairs Council on Wednesday approved Lithuania’s entry to the euro zone in January 2015, which is the final decision that was needed for the country to adopt the single currency next year.
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In addition, the Council adopted pieces of legislation relating to the adoption of the euro in Lithuania and approved the official exchange rate between the two currencies (EUR 1 = LTL 3.4528).

Lithuania’s bid to adopt the euro in 2015 was last week endorsed by the European Parliament, and before that – by the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB).

"The entry of Lithuania into the euro family is not only a crucial event for this partner country, but it is of great importance for the whole euro zone", said Sandro Gozi, State Secretary for European Affairs of Italy and President of the Council of the EU. "It's a demonstration of the continuing attractiveness of the single currency project and its relevance for the future of our community."

"Lithuania's consistent efforts have paid off: today the euro zone has opened the door for us", said Algirdas Butkevičius, Prime Minister of Lithuania. "The adoption of the euro has been Lithuania's strategic step, well thought-out economically and politically, to foster national economic growth. Lithuania's accession to the single European currency will strengthen the EU's Economic and Monetary Union. Deeper euro integration means greater security as well."

Lithuania, which will become the 19th member of the euro bloc, will be the last of the Baltic countries to adopt the single currency.

As shown by the latest Eurobarometer survey, the number of people who favour the euro in Lithuania rose by 5 percentage points in April year-on-year to reach 46 percent. Forty-eight percent of respondents were against euro adoption, down by 6 points from a year ago. The remaining six percent said they had no opinion on the issue.

Lithuania's bid to adopt the euro in early 2007 was rejected on the grounds that its inflation rate was above the entry level. Estonia adopted the single currency in 2011 and Latvia in 2014.

According to Lithuanian Finance Minister Rimantas Šadžius, Lithuania's membership in the euro zone is the natural development stage for the state.

"For almost a decade, from the very beginning of Lithuania's membership in the European Union, Lithuania was striving for this goal, by reforming its economy, strengthening the financial system, at the same time creating a reliable and disciplined image of the country at international level. We will responsibly continue these works and, as members of the euro zone, we will together seek sharing our best practices and using the advantages provided by the Economic and Monetary Union," said the minister.

"In a few months, by joining the euro zone Lithuania at the same time will join the Banking Union and a single banking supervisory mechanism. This means not only additional safeguards but also additional guarantees for the banks operating in the country, which, when faced with temporary difficulties, will have a possibility to use financial resources of the European Central Bank. These factors will even more strengthen the national financial system, its reliability, and this is important both for financial institutions and their customers," says Chairman of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania Vitas Vasiliauskas.

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