Eurozone candidates are not yet fit to join | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 30.05.2012
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Eurozone candidates are not yet fit to join

None of the eight countries currently aspiring to adopt the single euro currency in the years ahead are meeting the criteria to do so. A fresh ECB report points to numerous incompatibilities still at hand.

Not a single nation on the waiting list to join the euro area has as yet fulfilled all the required membership criteria, the European Central Bank (ECB) said in its biannual Convergence Report on Wednesday.

The survey regularly assesses the progress made by EU nations towards adopting the dingle currency. While Britain and Denmark are sticking to their special opt-out clauses, the remaining eight candidates are seen by the central bank as not yet being fit to join the currency.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Sweden all revealed shortcomings on a number of counts, with many displaying weaknesses with regard to their track record on inflation, government finances, exchange rates, long-term interest rates and legal convergence.

Keeping on task

"Incompatibilities remain also regarding central bank independence," the Convergence Report stated. Hungary in particular had recently been in the firing line for changes to its central bank law that were viewed as damaging the independence enshrined in eurozone statutes.

The ECB did not scrutinize the aspirants' actual willingness to join the eurozone any time soon, with the single currency in deep trouble at the moment. Normally, EU countries would be obliged to adopt the euro at some stage. ECB officials noted, though, that candidates may be granted some more time to wait for the debt crisis to calm down.

Latvia, for instance, had signaled that it intended to join the euro area as soon as possible despite the current turmoil. The Polish government also said it was still willing to join, even though the euro's reputation had been considerably dented in recent months.

hg/sgb (AFP, dpa)