On January 1st Lithuania became the 19th EU Member state that joined the euro area. Today some 337 million Europeans in 19 Member States share the same currency.
January 2, 2015.
Lithuania's accession "marks the completion of the Baltic States' journey back to the political and economic heart of our continent," says Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue.
Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, notes that Lithuania has "a strong track record of sound fiscal policies and structural reforms, which have delivered some of the highest growth rates in Europe, coupled with steadily falling unemployment."
From January 1st the euro is gradually replacing the litas as the currency of Lithuania. There will be a dual circulation period of two weeks, during which the two currencies will be in use alongside each other in order to allow for a progressive withdrawal of Lithuanian litas. When receiving a payment in litas, the change will be given in euro.
As of 1 January, Lietuvos Bankas will exchange unlimited amounts of litas into euro at the official conversion rate (1= 3.45280 LTL) for an unlimited period of time and free of charge. Commercial banks will provide unlimited cash exchange services free of charge until 30 June 2015. Post offices will change litas cash up to the value of 1,000 per transaction free of charge until 1 March 2015.
Prices have had to be displayed both in litas and euro since 23 August 2014. This rule will apply at least until 30 June 2015. In order to address consumers' concerns about price increases and abusive practices in the changeover period, a campaign on good business practice upon euro introduction was launched in August 2014. It calls on businesses (e.g. retailers, financial institutions, internet shops) to commit via signature of a memorandum not to use the adoption of the euro as a pretext for increasing prices of goods and services. The State Consumer Rights Protection Authority may impose fines and put the names of enterprises that do not observe the Memorandum on a publicly available "black list".
Lithuania became the 19th EU member state, and the 3rd Baltic state (after Estonia and Latvia) that has joined the euro area. In order to accede to the eurozone an EU member state has to show sound financial and fiscal policies, including compliance with specific benchmarks with regard to budget deficit, public debt and inflation.