Lithuania to Adopt Euro on January 1

© Fotolia / VRD European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Germany.
European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Germany. - Sputnik International
The European Commission announced Lithuania's accession to the euro zone in June 2014, after rendering a positive evaluation of the member state's compliance with the criteria to switch to the euro.

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MOSCOW, December 31 (Sputnik) — Lithuania will become the 19th European Union (EU) member to adopt the euro on January 1, 2015, and cash machines will start dispensing cash in euros from midnight, the European Commission said in a press release on Wednesday.

However, the full replacement of Lithuania's national currency will be gradual, according to the Commission.

For two weeks, Lithuanians will be able to withdraw and use cash in both euros and litas, but change will only be dispensed in euros.

"This has been made possible thanks to thorough preparations ahead of the introduction of the single currency," the Commission said on Wednesday, noting that Lietuvos Bankas, the central bank of Lithuania, had already given euro banknotes and coins to the country's commercial bank.

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Furthermore, the press release noted that Lithuanian residents and retailers had already been provided with thousands of starter kits with euro coins in early December.

Lietuvos Bankas in turn will exchange "unlimited amounts of litas" for the euro at a rate of about 3.4 litas against the euro. Commercial banks, too, will also provide free services for the exchange of unlimited sums of cash, though only until the end of June 2015.

Prices displayed in both euro and litas, which has been in force since August, will stay in effect until June 2015.

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According to Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Commission, the Baltic state's membership of the euro community will boost the region's economy due to increased business, trade, and investments.

The European Commission announced Lithuania's accession to the euro zone in June 2014, after rendering a positive evaluation of the member state's compliance with the criteria to switch to the euro.

The euro zone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The currency was introduced in 1999 and its name was decided upon in 1995.

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