Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Polish Officials See 10 to 20 Years Needed Before Euro Adoption

  • Euro entry would surrender economic tools, Morawiecki says
  • Kaczynski warns against becoming ‘peripheral nation for good’

Poland won’t adopt the euro for the next 10 or 20 years, the ruling Law & Justice Party said, arguing that doing so earlier would rob the country of independent policies and potentially make it a “peripheral nation for good.”

With the political opposition calling for swapping the zloty for the single currency, Law & Justice officials said the European Union’s largest eastern economy needs more time to catch up with living standards in Germany. In comments underscoring the tension between Warsaw and its EU allies that has grown during a dispute over rule of law in Poland, Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said joining the euro area would either hit exporters or the living standards of Poles.

“Those that believe that the West is full of good uncles that will look after our interests shouldn’t deal with politics,” Kaczynski, who wields the power behind Prime Minister Beata Szydlo’s cabinet, told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper in an interview published Wednesday. “We can join the euro when our gross domestic product is at 85 percent of that in Germany on per capita terms.”

While Poland is growing faster than the EU average, helping it make up ground on its richer peers, GDP per capita in purchasing power terms was 69 percent of the bloc’s average, according to the latest available data from Eurostat. That compares with 50 percent when the country of 38 million people joined in 2004, making it the sixth-poorest country in the 28-member trading union.

‘Peripheral Nation’

Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who manages the government’s economic policy, said giving up instruments including debt issuance, rates set by an independent central bank and a zloty that’s able to fluctuate against the euro and dollar would remove tools that Poland needs to economically converge with its wealthier peers.

“We would quickly regret such a decision,” Morawiecki said. “In 10 or 20 years, when key economic parameters are more similar with those in Germany, France and the Netherlands, we can consider it.”

Kaczynski, whose party has lashed out at Poland’s EU partners after an overhaul of the nation’s courts triggered the bloc’s first-ever probe into whether a member is backsliding on democracy, rejected proposals to join the euro to increase Warsaw’s influence. Relations suffered a new blow last week when EU leaders ignored objections from Poland and approved former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for a second term as president of the European Council.

Adopting the euro now would make Poland “a peripheral nation for good,” Kaczynski told Rzeczpospolita.

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