The Next County Adopting the Euro Could Be the Last

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Dec. 30 2013 3:49 PM

Lithuania Could Be the Last Country to Join the Euro

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Out in Europe, spending euros.

Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

There are some countries where people are still excited about Europe’s much-maligned common currency, they just seem to all be Baltic countries. Estonia joined the Eurozone in 2011, and Latvia will become the 18th member on Wednesday. Lithuania seems likely to be next in 2015. But after that, as the Financial Times, reports, it could be a while:

All members of the EU except the UK and Denmark, which secured formal “opt-outs” two decades ago, are required by treaty to eventually join the single currency. Sweden, which remains outside despite the requirement, is currently “living in sin”, in the words of one senior EU official, by intentionally violating technical criteria on central bank independence required to join.
But other than Lithuania, no other non-euro country required to join has even taken the first step towards membership: joining the exchange rate mechanism, which sets trading limits for currencies preparing to join. It took Latvia more than eight years to go from joining the ERM to full euro membership, meaning the next euro member could be at least a decade away.
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Enthusiasm in Poland, the next logical candidate, seems tepid at best. The Czech Republic's president says his country's membership is at least five years off.

On the flip-side, as my former colleague Blake Hounshell notes, predictions of a “Grexit”—Greece dropping the euro in the wake of the country’s economic collapse—have also not come to pass.

It seems more likely the eurozone is going to hold steady at 19 for the forseeable future.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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