Prague, Czech Republic – A small group of protesters marched on Saturday on Wenceslas Square to urge the Czech Republic to adopt the euro and boost its ties with the Eurozone.
Protesters march in Prague in support of euro adoption
“We do not like the direction taken by the Czech Republic, which is moving away from Europe and its values”, argued Tomáš Peszyński, one of the organizers of the march and member of ‘Pulse of Europe‘, an association founded two years ago to promote and safeguard the Czech Republic’s place at the heart of the EU.
Gathering on Saint Wenceslas Day, celebrated every year on September 28, protesters unveiled a large banner featuring a one-euro coin with the former medieval king of Bohemia, whose statue towers over the iconic Prague avenue.
The march, originally planned on Kampa island, was moved to Wenceslas Square due to the lack of interest in the happening, reports the Czech News Agency.
The issue of euro adoption has long been a contentious topic in the Czech Republic which, contrary to neighbouring Slovakia but along with Visegrad allies Poland and Hungary, has refused to set a precise date to join the 19-member Eurozone.
Should the Czech Republic join the Eurozone?
According to EU treaties, every member state is legally bound to join the Eurozone (except for the U.K. and Denmark, both of which negotiated an opt-out clause) once they meet all the pre-conditions.
But in effect, any member state can choose not to participate in the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II, in EU jargon), one of the mandatory so-called ‘convergence criteria’ to adopt the euro, and thus indefinitely stay out of the Eurozone.
Although many economists claim the Czech Republic, due to its strong ties with and export-reliance on Eurozone members, should join the club, some analysts consider that Prague would have no direct interest in doing so, arguing that the Czech Republic should rather keep complete control of its monetary policy in order to face any potential sharp economic downturn.
The issue has failed to gain traction in a country where the EU’s common currency has become synonymous with the Greek and sovereign debt debacles of the past years, and the much-loved koruna a symbol and token of national sovereignty.
The Czech population is among the least in favour of adopting the euro. With only one third, or even less according to some polls, of citizens expressing support for the common currency, such a proposal or open support in favour of joining the Eurozone would roughly amount to political suicide for any hopeful party or politician.