Latvija in brief - 2012-06-21

  • 2012-06-22

President Andris Berzins confirmed to the public that Latvia does not need to hold a referendum on joining the eurozone, reports LETA. During an interview on the on-line discussion ‘Dienas rits’ on June 18, the president said that Latvian citizens agreed to accept the euro as the official currency during the referendum on accession to the European Union. The president also believes that a referendum on the euro could be seen by other countries as an attempt to review EU membership. “Looking at the current situation, I believe we must join the eurozone,” the president said. The head of the Union and Farmers’ group at Saeima, Augusts Brigmanis, previously expressed the point of view that a referendum on joining the eurozone should be held. Public support for switching from the lats to the euro in Latvia has reached a record low, with only 15 percent of residents supporting the idea, according to a study carried out by carried out by SKDS this past April.

During the third and final reading on June 14, Saeima supported the Law on State Pensions, which stipulates that the current retirement age of 62 will be increased by three months every year, starting from 2014, reports LETA. The retirement age will be raised until it reaches 65 in 2025. The previous version of the bill stipulated that the retirement age would be increased by three months in 2014 and 2015 each, and by six months every year from 2016 to 2020. However, the Saeima Social and Employment Matters Committee assessed all proposals and supported Harmony Center’s motion to raise the retirement age slower than previously planned. The proposal was also approved by the Welfare Ministry. The slower increase in the retirement age will cost 210 million lats (300 million euros) to the social budget. According to the current version of the bill, the minimum insurance record will also be raised to 15 years and to 20 years starting from 2025.

In 2010, Latvia registered the second highest proportion of renewable energy use in the European Union, according to data from the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat, reports LETA. 32.6 percent of the energy consumed in Latvia was renewable in 2010. Sweden had the highest proportion of renewable energy use in the EU in 2010 at 47.9 percent, followed by Latvia, and Finland at 32.3 percent. However, the lowest proportion of renewable energy use is in Malta, at 0.4 percent, followed by Luxembourg - 2.8 percent, and Great Britain - 3.2 percent. The proportion of renewable energy use in Lithuania in 2010 was 19.7 percent, but in Estonia - 24.3 percent. The total proportion of renewable energy use in the whole EU was 12.4 percent in 2010.