Warsaw, Poland – Speaking in front of party loyalists during a PiS convention in Lublin, Eastern Poland, chairman of the ruling Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski reiterated his scepticism towards adopting the euro.
“We say ‘no’ to the euro, ‘no’ to European prices. We will adopt the euro some day, because we are committed to do so and we are and will be in the European Union, but we will accept it when it is in our interest”, Kaczynski said, before adding: “It will be in our interest when we reach a level very close to Germany [in] GDP level, standard of living”.
According to Eurostat data, GDP per capita is currently more than three times higher in Germany (39.600 euros per inhabitant) than in Poland (12.200 euros per inhabitant). The wealth gap between the two neighbours remains wide in purchasing power parity (PPS): 37.100 PPS per capita in Germany, compared to 20.900 in Poland.
According to analysts, his comments were meant to attract more supporters, as PiS is neck-and-neck with the opposition European Coalition ahead of May’s EU elections, according to the most recent polls. While support for the European Union is among the strongest in Poland, Poles remain sceptical regarding the potential benefits of ditching the zloty for the EU’s common currency (a stance shared with Visegrad Group allies Hungary and the Czech Republic), fueled by the widespread fear euro adoption would result in galloping inflation and higher prices.
The European Coalition, a united grouping of Polish opposition parties centered around the Civic Platform (PO), has yet to clearly express its position on the euro, and PiS has repeatedly tried to present them as strong advocates of euro adoption. Although officially in favour of joining the Eurozone, the Civic Platform said it would rather seek “a wide national consensus” on the issue.
Last year, Poland’s deputy finance minister Leszek Skiba confirmed that “Poland should enter the Eurozone, but not yet”, speaking of a “balance of benefits, opportunities and threats” to determine the right time for the country to join the 19-member monetary club.
In an open letter published in the Rzeczpospolita newspaper last year, a group of economists urged the Polish government to adopt the euro, pointing to the growing risk of Poland being isolated and left on the sidelines of EU decision-making if it decided to stay out, and arguing the euro adoption would be a way to anchor Poland’s place in Western Europe. “We’re certainly not racing to the Eurozone; it’s going through problems and has a lot of limitations”, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki reacted shortly after.
According to EU treaties, all member states (except for the U.K. and Denmark, who negotiated an opt-out) are legally obliged to join the Eurozone once they meet the so-called convergence criteria.