…But Poland Will Remain Out of the Euro (For Now)

We have recently covered Latvia’s determination to advance into the eurozone despite broad, popular opposition to the idea. In Poland, the popular discontent is there (fewer than a third of Poles support the move, according to recent surveys), but its manifestation is sufficiently strong that, according to a recent interview with current and likely soon-to-be-former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, euro accession may be a decade or more away.

Speaking to Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Tusk painted a bleak picture of the euro’s future for Poland. “We will not enter the euro zone without changing the constitution. We do not have a majority for this today and, according to my intuition, we will not have such a majority in the next term either,” Tusk said.

“If you want me to lose elections, then yes, persuade me to announce that I will do something that people fear … Keep in mind that the euro zone remains in a deep renovation process.”

Poland’s constitution states that only its central bank may print currency, something that would necessarily change if the nation joined the euro. Simple laws require only a parliamentary majority to pass; constitutional changes require a two-thirds supermajority.

Euroskeptic parties hold sufficient votes to block the amendment — and currently lead in public polling ahead of elections in 2015.

The financial crisis of 2008 not only shocked Poles into a disengagement from the euro, it virtually guaranteed Poland’s inability to meet the Maastricht Treaty requirements for eurozone entry, not least involving government debt and deficits. With Poland’s economy still recovering from the 2008 shocks, this makes the debate over euro membership somewhat academic.

Nevertheless, Poland does pose an interesting contrast: where Latvia’s elites are driving the country to the euro despite popular opposition, in Poland popular opposition is not only blocking the move, but will likely end the reign of the party pushing the effort.

Both countries are healthy democracies. It is a bit facile, but nevertheless, one of them acts like it.

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