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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Candidates in No Hurry for Euro




BRUSSELS, Belgium -- None of the five East European countries seeking European Union membership wants to adopt the euro at the time of joining the bloc, EU and East European monetary officials say.


The five countries in advanced EU membership talks f the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia f are seeking to take part in economic and monetary union, or EMU, with a "derogation," meaning they will not initially adopt the euro, one EU official said.


The officials were speaking before the first formal EU enlargement negotiations on the legal requirements for EMU, due to be held in Brussels at the ambassadorial level on Sept. 30.


When they were put on the "fast track" talks in December 1997, Estonia and Slovenia both expressed hope they would be ready to sign up for the euro upon EU membership.


That position has been abandoned.


"I think Slovenia's aim to enter the EMU simultaneously with entering the EU was more a pious wish than a real goal," said an official of the Bank of Slovenia.


He said simultaneous membership in both the euro zone and the EU was likely only if the wider accession negotiations took longer than expected.


The Sept. 30 talks will be based on position papers the five have submitted to the European Commission, the EU's executive body, following informal discussions held with each country earlier this year.


The commission will respond to all the position papers Sept. 30, giving its view on how candidates are fulfilling requirements for joining the euro, such as central bank independence.


One commission official said it may seek to clarify the dates by which some countries aim to have met all the requirements.


Polish officials said Poland was not seeking any transition periods for meeting the criteria if it joins the bloc after 2003 as planned.


The single currency talks are only a small part of the much wider negotiations on EU membership that each country has to go through before it can hope to join the bloc.


Compared with other areas, such as agriculture, the talks on the euro are uncomplicated because they do not seek to address controversial points such as economic convergence.


EU officials said the question of a currency mechanism to link the easterners more closely to the euro, something that has been rendered moot by outgoing Monetary Affairs Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy, was also not covered.


Poland says it will consider joining such an exchange rate mechanism only after it is in the EU.


"Sovereign decisions of the Polish government concerning [exchange rate mechanism] membership and f at a later date f adoption of the euro, will be made after Poland has been granted full membership in the EU," Poland's position paper says.