The president of the European Commission urged countries Wednesday to support the ailing euro as the bloc grapples with a financial crisis that has caused the currency's value to plummet.
Jose Manuel Barroso was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of government leaders from 11 countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, which is aimed at increasing cooperation in a region badly hit by the recent global economic downturn.
"What is important is to show and to understand our commitment to keep the euro a strong and credible currency, which it is now," Barroso said. "I can guarantee that the euro is a very stable and strong currency. The current level is above what it was when it was created."
Estonia is pinning hopes on adopting the joint European currency, used by 16 of 27 European Union members, in January. Next month, EU finance ministers will vote on its membership application.
For its more troubled Baltic neighbors — Latvia and Lithuania — the euro is a more distant dream. Both have said they aim to enter the euro zone by 2014 at the earliest.
Barroso warned that the economic climate calls for budget cuts and savings.
"The economic period is difficult. Budget cuts have never been easy but I am certain about Lithuania's future," Barroso said after talks Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. "The reforms are moving in the right direction and Europe shows solidarity."
Leaders from the Baltic Sea states at the two-day summit stressed the need for responsible handling of public finances to avoid problems such as Greece has faced.
"Every country should manage its public finances in the most efficient way possible because we all suffer from somebody's mistakes or efforts to conceal the actual situation," Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said.
The participants also discussed pollution and environmental issues, as well as human trafficking — of top importance for the organization's new president, Norway.
"It is a very high priority in Baltic sea cooperation," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. "Today we have decided to extend the mandate of the task force on organized crime, which is involved in (combating) human trafficking."
The Baltic Sea states meet regularly to discuss regional issues. They include Russia, Germany, Poland, the five Nordic countries and the three Baltic countries.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.