The Euro marks Latvia’s reintegration into Europe. But what does it mean for Latvians?
Benefits for Latvian citizens and companies
My neighbour is an older guy who for the last couple of years has been living on his pension and from time to time is engaged in occasional employment. He has experienced many currency changes. Somehow this one doesn’t seem to him as particularly damaging to his financial situation, contrary to the previous ones which wiped out his savings.
For work reasons, he sometimes goes abroad to neighbouring Estonia or to Finland. He was introduced to the Euro there and saw that these countries coped well with its introduction. These days when it is common for people to go abroad regularly, it seemed to him that the Lat made it only more difficult to fully benefit from the EU's open borders.
Another friend of mine is an entrepreneur. He exports his goods to the rest of the EU and receives payments in Euros. For him, the introduction of the Euro is good news because now he will not have to pay fees to the banks for exchanging currency to pay his workers' salaries. He will be able to save these banking fees and invest them in his enterprise.
Saying farewell to the Lat doesn’t mean a loss of national identity
There was also opposition to the introduction of the Euro in Latvia. I regularly meet with voters and they have expressed their concerns about it.
The most common one was that it will be sad for them to say farewell to the Lat because it is such nice money to hold in one's hands. It has the Latvian symbols on it and people were afraid that by introducing the Euro they will lose some of their identity.
This fear is gone now, because they see that the Latvian Euro coin has the legendary profile of the maiden on it.
Today, Latvians enjoy holding the Latvian Euro in their hands, and are proud that after the fall of the Soviet Union, their country is finally reintegrating back into the European family. It means a lot, believe me.
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