Calls to tighten entry criteria

The woes and failings of eurozone member Greece have sparked irritation among the EU's former communist states, amid jitters that the entry rules for the single currency club could be beefed up.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has underscored what his country sees as unequal treatment of eurozone insiders and would-be entrants, locked in biting austerity drives as they try to meet the entry criteria in the face of an economic crisis.

"As long as a country is not a member of the single currency, the Maastricht criteria are applied very strictly, but once you are in, you can do almost what you want," he said.

Former Soviet Lithuania joined the EU in 2004. It had aimed to adopt the euro in 2007 but failed by a hair's breadth to meet inflation-control criteria laid out in the EU's Maastricht Treaty on economic and monetary union. Greece, meanwhile, was admitted in 2001 as a founding member of the eurozone after presenting what turned out later to be bogus data. It has since run up a public deficit and a debt far in excess of eurozone limits.

Lithuania's litas is pegged to the euro, just like the currencies of its neighbours Latvia and Estonia, which also won independence in 1991 and joined the EU six years ago.

 

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