Latvia's finance minister Andris Vilks Monday said the euro will bring greater stability and predictability to the economy of his country. "This is very important for investors and financial markets in the current economic climate. Having the euro as Latvia's currency will ease access to more than 500 million consumers in the EU," he told a press conference in Brussels. On January 1, Lativa will become the 18th member of the euro area. Vilks said Latvia, which has a population of about 2 million, had been hardest hit by the economic crisis in 2009, but after a series of reforms and austerity measures its economy recovered rapidly and in 2012 the Baltic country's GDP rose by 5.6 percent.