Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Bulgaria to take first steps towards euro

  • "We don't think there are any sufficient arguments for us to stay out," Bulgaria's finance minister said on Thursday (Photo: Michal Jarmoluk)

Bulgaria will take the first steps towards joining the euro before the summer, its finance minister said on Thursday (11 January).

Vladislav Goranov told a group of journalists in Sofia that Bulgaria will "most likely apply in the first semester" to the EU Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II), the mandatory phase before effectively adopting the EU single currency.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Prime minister Borisov is hoping his country will apply to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism before the summer (Photo: Wikipedia)

Goranov said Bulgaria had been "holding intensive discussions" with the European Central Bank (ECB) and eurozone member states about the move and that it was "ready".

The Bulgarian government will wait for a "signal" from the ECB and other EU actors that its application would have some chances to be accepted.

But Goranov added that the government would apply even if that sign doesn't come.

"We need a certain direction on what we need to do to join this [euro] club," he said.

"We don't think there are any sufficent arguments for us to stay out," the minister insisted, adding that his country fulfils the criteria to join the euro.


Bulgaria, the fourth most-rapidly growing EU economy, registers a zero percent deficit and public debt below 30 percent - against an EU average of almost 90 percent.

"We are excellent pupils," Goranov said.

Goodbye to the lev?

Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but its currency, the lev, has been pegged to the euro since 1997.

Because of that, Goranov pointed out, Bulgaria is already "highly dependent on ECB policy" and cannot devaluate its currency.

The minister insisted that Bulgaria joining ERM II "will not result in any additional risk for the euro system."

The push towards the euro comes as Bulgaria takes over the six-month presidency of the EU council.

The country is also facing resistance from some other member states to it joining the passport-free Schengen area.

"We would not like to witness the same situation as with Schengen, where all formal criteria have been met but we are not allowed to any additional instruments for [EU] integration," the minister warned.

Countries like Germany are said to be wary of letting Bulgaria join the euro in the coming years. But Goranov argued that an application to the ERM II would oblige EU institutions to set clear targets and for Bulgaria to respect them.

"We accept all criticism and arguments as far as they are honest," he said.

"We need a perspective," he said, insisting that it would be "very difficult to explain to [the Bulgarian] society why we do not file a formal application."

Bulgaria's president vetoes anti-corruption bill

Bulgaria is starting its six-month EU presidency amid attempts to shake off issues of corruption and poor press freedoms. Earlier this week, Bulgaria's president vetoed an anti-graft bill, claiming it was too weak.

Small EU states rush to join single currency

Cyprus has applied to join the eurozone on 1 January 2008, as part of a trend that is seeing the EU's smallest new members rush to get into the single currency while bigger economies such as Poland and Romania pull further away from the euro-horizon.

Bulgaria's corruption problem mars EU presidency start

A dispute between the government and the president over an anti-corruption law has put the spotlight on one of the Bulgaria's main problems - just as it is trying to showcase its economic and social progress.

Opinion

What to expect from Bulgaria's EU presidency?

Corruption, organised crime, lack of foreign investment and digital skills make Bulgaria an unlikely standard bearer for the EU during its presidency. But perhaps Sofia can pull it off.

EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday

Voters in the world's second-biggest election, the European Parliament ballot, will know before midnight on Sunday to what extent a foretold far-right surge has come to be.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Happy young Finns don't vote in EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us