EU Welcomes Latvia to Start Year

Latvia became the 18th full member nation of the European Union and began using the euro on January 1. Granted, people in the Baltic nation have concerns, as do some of the more stable EU members that already paid to bail out problematic, fellow EU nations in recent years.

Though recovering well from the massive global recession that started to hit Europe particularly hard by 2008, some Latvians have consternation about joining an economic bloc that has seen several nations, especially in the southwestern portion of the continent, fall into financial hard times on the euro. The concern is so prevalent that polls indicate upwards of half the population did not want to switch currencies. That said, the potential for reduced reliance on the Russian government because of new alliances and a stable, well-accepted currency was high enough for leaders to push the move.

The progression is the opposite of that of Ukraine.Protests reignited this week in Ukraine as part of the fallout from the nation’s shocking move in late November to abruptly end trade pact negotiations with the EU after five years to, in theory, cozy up to Putin Russia. Passionate protests outside the capital this week show the populous is not ready to quietly accept a situation that gives Russia a perceived heightened control over Ukraine’s decision-makers.

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer

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