|The Eurozone, European Union, and other countries using the euro. |
Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Ssolbergj. License: CC BY-SA
Article by Caleb Centanni
Eurozone Adds New Member
The Eurozone, an economic union of states in the European Union (EU) that have adopted the euro as their currency, added its eighteenth member in January. This is the organization’s first new admission since Estonia joined in 2011.
Latvia, a small former-Soviet republic in the Baltic Region, officially adopted the euro on January 1, 2014. Latvia has had one of Europe’s fastest growing economies in recent years, and this swift recovery from the recent recession helped it meet the Eurozone’s criteria for 2014. Latvia’s adoption of the euro was approved by the country’s parliament in January 2013, despite polls showing public opinion on the decision with less than 50 percent in favor.
The European Central Bank, the governing financial body of the Eurozone, is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. Germany, along with eleven other EU countries, became a founding member of the Eurozone in 1999. Since then, seven more members have joined after meeting the five necessary economic criteria. This has brought the total to eighteen members, comprising all but ten of the 28 European Union member states.
|The EU and prospective members|
There are also four small states outside of the EU - Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City -which have monetary agreements allowing them to use the euro as their official currency. Meanwhile two other EU non-members, Montenegro and the disputed state of Kosovo, have unilaterally adopted the euro without coming to any agreement with the Central Bank. The EU has expressed its dissatisfaction with these unilateral adoptions, but the currency’s use in the two states has gone forward anyway.
Many countries sought Eurozone membership at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, but most became less interested after the euro was hit by its own crisis in 2009. Meanwhile, recent Danish polls suggest the country is unlikely to support moving to the new currency any time soon. However, Latvia’s neighbor Lithuania is still scheduled to join in 2015.