European integration is just either-or situation. Being in and out of the EU are not the only models, multi-speed integration has already happened. Eurozone is the best example of it.
Today, euro area has 19 Member States as it grew to seven new members in the recent years. Four of the new members are Central and Eastern European countries: Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014) and Lithuania (2015).
Citizens in countries obliged to adopt euro often fear the detrimental effects it may have on their economy. Among some of the most commonly voiced questions there are: high costs of preparations to adopt the new currency, growing foreign debt and current account deficit, prices rising to the “western” levels, as well as general public discontent ensuing from the transition.
However, the experience of the four countries proved the skeptics
We can safely state that the transition gave a moderately positive stimulus to the economies of Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania, while it clearly boosted the economic growth in Estonia. In addition, while the prices of single products did indeed sky-rocket, the overall increase in prices was mild and the general level of prices came nowhere near that of the “older” members of the euro area.
With regards to non-economic factors, accessing the euro area triggered multiple political benefits:
The success of these countries’ transition is best reflected in public opinion polls. The greater parts of the societies are content with the new currency and in Estonia, Slovakia and Latvia as many as 80-85% of the respondents voiced their satisfaction.
To Polish readers we recommend a report about the effects of introducing Euro in Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – on which this article is based (the Report is only in Polish).