EU leaders hail Latvia’s euro membership

European Union leaders say Latvia’s inclusion in the euro bloc has shown that countries can emerge from economic crises stronger and that fears of the common currency’s decline were exaggerated. 

During his first visit to the country since its accession, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the Baltic state is a “shining example” of how an economy can reap benefits from painful reforms. It is currently the EU’s fastest-growing economy. Barroso said Latvia’s joining the eurozone on January 1 was the best demonstration of the currency zone’s resilience despite recent predications it would implode due to high debts and recessions in several member states.

European Council President Herman van Rompuy said he expects another Baltic state, Lithuania, to become the 19th member of the eurozone in 2015.