EU ministers have given the final stamp of approval for Lithuania to join the eurozone next year. Amid fears of unjustified price hikes, the Baltic state will be the 19th nation to adopt the single currency.
Lithuania's adoption of the euro currency was finalized on Wednesday as European Union ministers gave the green light for the Baltic State to join the bloc on January 1, 2015.
The ministers' approval was the final hurdle in Lithuania's accession process into the eurozone.
Lithuania will be the last Baltic state to adopt the common currency after Estonia did so in 2011, with Latvia having followed suit this year.
"Lithuania stands ready to contribute to the area with its energy, ambition and strong sense of partnership and solidarity," Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said in Brussels.
Experts and EU officials have interpreted Lithuania's desire to join the 18-member bloc as a signal of the currency's resilience. Some said the envisaged inclusion of Lithuania into the bloc proved wrong skeptics who had predicted the currency's implosion at the height of the eurozone debt crisis.
Weighing the options
The eurozone is still battling sluggish growth and only managed to pull out of its recession last year.
Nevertheless, officials in Vilnius said the benefits of joining the area offset any potential risks.
An official exchange rate was set of 3.4528 Lithuanian litas for one euro. The European Commission recommended further measures to guard against any currency abuse during the changeover.
The EU executive warned precautions must be taken to prevent retailers from using the euro's introduction as a pretext for unjustified price hikes.
hg/cjc (dpa, AFP)