“During discussions on the introduction of the euro, we often hear the names of countries, including the so-called new European Union (EU) member states, which are not planning to accede to the euro area in the near future. However, that is misleading. Not so long ago Algirdas Butkevičius, the new Lithuanian Prime Minister, told me that the Lithuanian government wants to join the euro area as soon as possible. This year near-by Poland, whose economy is developing successfully and whose clout in the European Union is increasing, has started a discussion on the introduction of the euro.” Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, emphasised this on Friday, 22 February, when addressing the participants of the high-level international conference “Experience with and Preparations for the Euro” held in the main building of the Saeima.
In her speech the Speaker of the Saeima quoted Wim Duisenberg, the first President of the European Central Bank, who said at the end of 1998 shortly before the euro became a means of non-cash payment: “The euro is far more than a medium of exchange…. It is part of the identity of a people. It reflects what they have in common now and in the future”.
“Not without objections, scepticism and emotion did the inhabitants of the euro area part with their marks, liras, francs and schillings,” Āboltiņa said, but also remarked that the decision to establish the euro area was based on economic considerations and practical benefits. “However, the political message was equally important – the members of the euro area are ready to take a crucial decision to come ever closer together, to leave wars and disagreements in the distant past and to ensure that EU member states are better equipped for global changes in the 21st century,” the Speaker of the Saeima said.
“We have to clearly assess all gains and losses. Everyone has to be aware that the euro will be something more than a currency in our purses or as pensions in our accounts. Introduction of the euro will offer us more advantageous terms and conditions for loans and a simpler life for entrepreneurs. It will ensure greater resilience against external disturbances and higher ratings given by international credit rating agencies,” said Āboltiņa.
It is in the interests of Latvia’s growth to ensure a favourable climate for attracting investments and facilitating exports as soon as possible, said the Speaker, adding that increased economic activity will lead to increased budget revenues, which, in turn, will enable us to review salaries, pensions and allowances.
In conclusion, Āboltiņa said that the Euro is more than banknotes and coins. „It is the most visible symbol of European integration. It is understood and felt by each European citizen. It is a tool which binds the lives of all Europeans together and enables them to increase the welfare of their family and their state with opportunities offered by the European Union,” said the Speaker.
On Friday, 22 February, an international conference on Experience with and Preparations for the Euro was held at the Saeima in order to promote a discussion on introduction of the single European currency, the euro, in Latvia, to address possible challenges, as well as to learn about the experience of other EU member states in introducing the euro.
Saeima Press Service