Tuesday, February 19 17:20:27
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk signalled today that his country could make a decision in 2015 on when it will join the euro single currency.
Tusk said a date for euro accession cannot be set unless a two-thirds majority in parliament approves a change in the constitution paving the way for entry. That majority does not exist now, though it may after the next parliamentary election in 2015.
Tusk gave no date for when Poland, eastern Europe's biggest economy, might actually adopt the euro.
Tusk and his allies could lose the election, or win but without a big enough majority in parliament to change the constitution. Even if they have the majority, they could decide to wait years after the election before naming a date.
But Tusk's comments did indicate that his government - anxious that by not being in the euro zone it is being left out of vital decisions about the future shape of Europe - is edging towards a timetable for entry.
Polish euro entry would be a big vote of confidence in a single currency that has been in a state of crisis for the past four years, but it is also a risky undertaking for Warsaw.
"It seems that the first opportunity to change the constitution could come after the 2015 election," said Piotr Bujak, chief economist at Nordea Bank Polska.
"Theoretically this could allow Poland to join the euro in early 2017, but I think the process will be delayed to 2018-2020," Bujak said.
Poland has already committed itself to joining the euro zone at some point in the future, without a date. Before joining it first needs to meet convergence and legal criteria, which include changing the constitution.
In a speech to parliament, Tusk said: "It is essential to have a constitutional majority to take this decision."
"There will be no such majority, unless there is a widespread belief that this is good for Poland," Tusk added. "This must be a widely supported decision, also in this chamber, in this or in a future configuration." (C ) Reuters