Euro Adoption Like Taking a Cab Instead of Driving, Singer Says

Some economies that adopt the euro are like people who prefer to take a taxi rather than drive, Czech central bank Governor Miroslav Singer said on Tuesday.

Singer said the country should adopt the common European currency only when it becomes a “win-win” situation and that the earliest possible date would be in 2019 because of all of the technical requirements.

“A taxi versus a car,” Singer told a conference in the Czech city of Brno. “It’s always a question of whether I feel like I do or don’t know how to drive, and the willingness to let someone else to drive is derived from that to a great extent.”

While other ex-communist European Union members have adopted the euro, the Czechs have so far abstained, with a majority of the population against it. The previous euro-skeptic government and central bank officials have been reluctant to endorse joining the currency area and say keeping the koruna and sovereign monetary policy helped defend the country during the global economic crisis.

Joining the euro has the advantage of offering smaller economies, like the Czechs’ former federation partner, Slovakia, more protection among the larger members and reducing currency volatility, Singer said. Aside from the Czechs, the Poles, Hungarians, Romanians and Bulgarians are outside the euro too.

Czechs Opposed

Debate over the common currency reignited this year, with President Milos Zeman calling for quick accession. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said having the euro would benefit the country of 10.5 million. But his government won’t set a date because his ruling partner, the ANO party led by Finance Minister Andrej Babis, is opposed. Babis has suggested calling a referendum on the euro during the parliamentary election in 2017.

Singer refused to say whether the Czechs should keep the koruna or adopt euro. The decision on euro entry, which the Czechs committed to when joining the EU in 2004, falls to the government rather than the central bank.

The Czechs are among Europe’s biggest opponents to the euro, with 69 percent against, according to a May 12 poll from CVVM. Only 24 percent support euro membership, according to the survey, which gave no margin of error.

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