The finance ministers of the euro countries have confirmed Slovenia has the green light to join the single currency group on January 1st next year but Lithuania does not, because its inflation rate is one tenth of one percent higher than allowed in the entry criteria.
These also concern debt, deficit, currency stability and interest rate. Eurogroup president and Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the treaty conditions would be applied to the letter in each new joiner’s case.
Vilnius is among four capitals aiming for 2008 then. Others are looking at later; Poland has not decided when it wants to join. All new member states must, under 2004 EU enlargement agreements. Lithuania says it will appeal to the leaders at a summit next week to take its robust economic performance into account, and ask them to reconsider about 2007.
Slovenia’s deficit was 1.8% of GDP last year; Lithuania’s was 0.5%. Big economies Germany and France have consistently broken the 3% Stability and Growth Pact limit.
But the Commission’s line is: they met the conditions at the outset, and it is all for the best that the newcomers do so as well.