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Romania Needs Euro-Entry Date ‘Toward’ 2020, Prime Minister Says

Romania, the European Union’s second-poorest member, needs to target euro adoption “toward” 2020, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said.

Joining the currency area in 2015 is “out of the question” as the country doesn’t yet meet the criteria, Ponta said in an interview broadcast today by the Bucharest-based Adevarul newspaper on its website. Romania will decide on a new euro-adoption target date in the first half of this year, central bank Governor Mugur Isarescu said Feb. 7.

“We must be very careful,” Ponta said. “Beyond meeting the convergence criteria, we have to see what’s the average income, what’s citizens’ purchasing power and what are the prices. Otherwise it would be a disaster as euro members are already weakened.”

Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis prompted former communist EU members including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to postpone plans to join the currency union as they work toward meeting requirements on the budget, inflation, public debt and interest rates.

Romania narrowed its budget deficit to within the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product last year and may exit the trading bloc’s excessive-deficit procedure, Minister Delegate for Budget Liviu Voinea said on March 14. The country has the fourth-lowest public debt in the 27-nation EU at 38 percent of GDP. Its inflation rate declined to 5.7 percent in February.

The leu weakened 0.1 percent to 4.4131 per euro at 4:54 p.m. in Bucharest.

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