Latvia ratifies EU fiscal discipline pact
(RIGA) - Latvia became the latest European Union member to approve the bloc's fiscal pact, a raft of measures designed to tighten fiscal discipline seen as key to shoring up the debt-laden eurozone.
Needing a two-thirds majority in Latvia's 100-seat parliament or Saeima, the measure passed by the narrowest of margins with the support of 67 lawmakers, with 29 against and one abstention. Three lawmakers were not present.
Ahead of the vote, Finance Minister Andris Vilks said Latvia had already taken many of the measures included in the pact as part of its recovery from the world's deepest recession in 2008-9, under a joint EU-IMF bailout programme worth 7.5 billion euros ($9.3 billion).
"The treaty is very important for Latvia's sustainable development," Vilks added.
Latvia, an EU member since 2004 and aims to adopt the euro in 2014, was among 25 of 27 EU members who signed up to the fiscal discipline treaty on January 31 in Brussels which requires ratification at the national level.
The pact aims to strengthen the coordination of economic policies and improve the governance of the 17-member eurozone, though countries that do not use the euro are also included with the exceptions of the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic which opted out of the measures.
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