WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland should decide on its path towards euro accession following parliamentary elections due in the autumn of 2015, President Bronislaw Komorowski was quoted as saying on Monday.
The largest economy in Europe’s emerging east is obliged by the terms under which it joined the European Union in 2004 to adopt the single currency at some point. The government has not set a target date, however, and says it will not do so until it has seen the final shape of new euro zone institutions.
Opinion polls show a majority of Poles oppose joining the euro, whose members are grappling with stagnating growth and low inflation after a years-long debt crisis.
Komorowski has called previously for an acceleration of the debate on adopting the currency.
“We have to ... answer the question if remaining outside the euro zone one may assure that Poland plays a significant role in the international arena,” he was quoted as saying by daily Rzeczpospolita on Monday. “In my opinion this is impossible.”
The president said Poland should prepare for a discussion on the euro, which “should lead to a decision already after next year’s parliamentary elections”. He did not elaborate on what should be decided, but said the discussion might entail a “potential date”.
Komorowski said Poland should meet the Maastricht criteria for euro entry, which would mean reducing its fiscal deficit to below the EU ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product.
“If we want to have a choice, we first have to fulfill the Maastricht criteria, which are important from the point of view of stability and development of our economy, even without joining the euro zone.”
Euro membership would require Poland to amend its constitution, which enshrines the zloty as its currency, but Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz’s center-right government does not now have the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to do so.
“The role of the president is to show what is most important from the point of view of Poland, even if these are difficult issues,” Komorowski said.
Finance Minister Mateusz Szczurek said in August that Poland is keeping the door open to euro zone membership, but that joining would not boost the country’s status because it is already a stable and developed economy.
Poland’s constitution says the president co-operates on foreign policy issues with the government. But any decisions will ultimately be up to the government and parliament.
Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Catherine Evans