Lithuania to Become 19th Eurozone Nation ({{commentsTotal}})

The European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) have approved Lithuania as the next nation to adopt the Euro, with the last Baltic nation set for the switch on January 1, 2015.

The latest economic figures from eight EU nations, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Croatia, were examined by the ECB, and only Lithuania passed the euro convergence criteria for joining.

The criteria, also known as the Maastricht criteria, include a low inflation rate, the state budget deficit in check, a low government debt-to-GDP ratio, a stable exchange rate and low long-term interest rates.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, elected to her second term in office last month, said they have now been accepted into the club of the strong.

A poll taken in March puts public support for adopting the Euro at only 34 percent in the nation, with 56 percent opposed. Support has dropped since last year.

The Lithuanian euro coins will have a picture of Vytis, an armor-clad knight on horseback holding a sword and shield.

The decision will be codified in July at a meeting of EU economy ministers. Lithuania petitioned to adopt the currency in 2007, but was rejected due to high inflation.

Estonia adopted the currency in 2011. Latvia switched to the Euro on January 1.

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