Lithuania’s banking and monetary systems are a bit of a mess, making this a reachable goal but a difficult one.
With Latvia’s economy outgrowing the rest of Europe’s, returning to its 2007 peak, the Baltic country is prepared to enjoy the benefits of the euro currently not really enjoyed by the European south.
Beneath the success of these individual stories is a somewhat odder truth: the Baltics only fit the European Union slightly better than they did the Soviet one.
Latvia did not rely on sainted austerity for its recovery. Its economy is still fragile. Its banking sector is a mess waiting to happen. It cannot cut off foreign investment, and yet it must.
Presumably if the government gave out more free money, economically productive people would stick around?
The net result is a perception that the law exists for the powerful, and in such places, what is left of civil society can never truly compete with the government and therefore grow.
We have recently covered Latvia’s determination to advance into the eurozone despite popular opposition to the idea. In Poland, the popular discontent is there, but as a result, euro accession there may be a decade or more away.
It is ironic that another achievement in democracy for Latvia will be accomplished in the manner of European democracy — by the people’s elected representatives, and despite the people’s will.
Riga has garnered widespread support within Europe, which is desperate to shore up the besieged currency. However, Riga’s entry looks like rats running onto a sinking ship to many Latvians.
The Eurozone continues to go from bad to worse. Greece may be on its way out. Spain wants a bank bail-out. Buried amongst this depressing cascade of impending catastrophe is some good news. The Baltic States have demonstrated the art of economic reform.