On Wednesday, 7 January, Lithuania’s entry into the eurozone was a cause for celebration in the US capital. During a very well attended ceremony at the EU Delegation Lithuania was fêted as the 19th euro area member.
FLTR Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, Swedish Ambassador Björn Lyrvall, Ambassador Pavilionis, Latvian Ambassador Andris Razāns and EU Ambassador David O'Sullivan Photo Ludo Segers

After a minute of silence to honour the victims of the Paris shooting, earlier that day, the EU’s Ambassador to the USA, David O'Sullivan, underscored the importance of Lithuania adopting the euro. "It shows the vitality of our common (EU) project and its openness to all member states," and he went on to say that "Lithuania is joining a stronger euro area than the one we had few years ago and an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) whose architecture continuous to evolve”. Ambassador O'Sullivan continued, "We are glad to count Lithuania in as the 19th Member.” He went on to highlight the historic significance of Lithuania adopting the euro as it “reflects the culmination of the pursuit of sound policies and of economic reform” and “the example of Lithuania demonstrates very well that adopting the euro in the context of sound macro-economic policies, will bring benefits to both companies and citizens”.

George Pineau, the European Central Bank (ECB)’s Permanent Representative in Washington, DC gave an overview of Lithuania’s achievements and that of the two other Baltic States since their independence from the Soviet Union. Besides making travelling easier within the EU and avoiding costly exchange procedures for consumers and business, the main objective of the single currency is to provide economic and political stability. He also pointed out that "Lithuania has now a seat on the ECB’s decision table and is not longer a price taker”.

After showing a movie with brief overview of the history leading up to Lithuania’s euro zone entry, a visibly pleased Lithuanian Ambassador to the USA, Žygimantas Pavilionis echoed Mr. O’Sullivan’s remarks and added he was proud “of Lithuania contributing during its Presidency of the EU to these recent reforms of the EMU and the European Council.” Ambassador Pavilionis said, “Lithuania’s Euro zone membership serves as an anchor for the prudent fiscal and economic policies that has allowed Lithuania to focus on building a balanced and competitive economy and thus ensuring macroeconomic stability.” Ambassador Pavilionis then handed the first 2 euro coin that arrived in Washington to Ambassador O’Sullivan.

Lithuania’s joining the euro area sees all three Baltic nations now enjoying the benefits of using the common currency. For most people it eliminates costly currency exchange and provides greater price transparency, as they are able to compare prices much easier. 337 million Europeans no longer need to exchange currency across 19 member states. In addition to the nineteen, a few European microstates, such as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City also share the common currency. Andorra will join on 15 January.

Like all other euro area member states, Lithuania is now subject to European Central Bank’s monetary policy. Whilst the ECB manages its stability and low inflation, the EU enforces strict guidelines ensuring sound public finances. Business will benefit from increased international trade whilst the Euro has now gained an important place in the global currency reserves of various national banks. The Euro represents 25% of global currency reserves. Having a common currency should also send strong signals to foreign investors considering Lithuania as their basis for European operations.

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