Zeman wants the euro ‘ASAP’

The Czech president says the country could adopt the euro within two years, but that a more realistic target is probably around five years. Courtesy photo.
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In his speech in Strasbourg, Czech president also had strong words for the European Parliament

Strasbourg, Feb. 26 (ČTK) — Czech President Miloš Zeman strongly supports the Czech Republic's adoption of the single European currency "as soon as possible," he said in his speech in the European Parliament (EP) today. He added that the euro is a stabilization factor of economic development.

At the beginning of his roughly 10-minute speech, Zeman criticized the "crazy" moving of the EP sessions from Brussels to Strasbourg, excessive bureaucracy and the architecture of the EU institutions' seats.

These phenomena are not part of his "European dream," he said, speaking in English without notes.

He said this dream does not include nonsensical directives, such as that on energy-saving bulbs. He said he had one at his cottage, and it looked like one at a cemetery or a mortuary.

Moreover, his European dream does not include the "European architecture" in Brussels and a steak served at the European Commission headquarters that looks and tastes like a chewing gum, he added at the beginning of his speech.

He also presented his ideas on the EU in his speech. The EU needs common rules in many areas, Zeman said, mentioning common foreign policy as the first example.

He also recalled the ironic question of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger about Europe's phone number: "Who[m] do I call if I want to call Europe?"

Zeman pointed out EU common foreign policy does not exist yet.

He also highlighted the necessity of common fiscal policy and harmonization of taxes.

He said, speaking about the Czech Republic, he is a keen supporter of the euro adoption in the time horizon "as soon as possible."

People criticizing the euro fear the unknown, Zeman said, adding that he, on the contrary, considers it a stabilizing factor of economic development.

Zeman said later at a press conference the Czech Republic could adopt the euro in two years at the earliest, but that he considers a five-year period realistic.

He also criticized the Czech National Bank (ČNB) for complicating the euro adoption for fear of losing its powers.

He mentioned the ČNB's recent intervention to weaken the crown Czech currency.

Zeman emphasized that the Czech Republic fulfills all three Maastricht criteria for euro adoption this year, and therefore it might adopt it as early as in two years’ time. This is an optimistic forecast, and he considers about five years realistic, he added.

 
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