Over 40,000 Czechs sign anti-euro petition

Photo: archive of Radio Prague

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Czech government to hold a referendum on euro adoption. The petition, organized by the opposition Civic Democrats, will now be debated in the Senate. But it’s unlikely it will bring about a change of mind in the government coalition which believes the country should adopt the euro by the year 2020.

Photo: archive of Radio Prague
The Petition for the Crown was launched by the opposition centre-right Civic Democratic party as part of their campaign ahead of the European Parliament elections last May. Since then, it has been signed by over 40,000 Czechs, while another more than 24,000 backed it online.

The petition, which was officially presented to the Senate on Tuesday, calls on the Czech government to seek an opt-out from the European Commission to adopt the single European currency only if the move is approved in a plebiscite. The Czech Republic is bound to join the Eurozone by its EU accession treaty from 2004 once it meets the euro-convergence criteria.

Civic Democrat MEP Jan Zahradil, who initiated the petition, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that most Czech companies were against adopting the euro. Mr Zahradil argued the conditions in the Eurozone had changed since the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism, a tool to provide assistance to troubled Eurozone members, and the introduction of the so-called Fiscal Compact and the banking union.

Most Czechs seem to be opposed to the adoption of the euro. A poll by the CVVM agency released in May found that 76 percent of respondents were against joining the Eurozone, and a mere 19 percent of those polled supported the move.

But the petition is unlikely to affect the official position of the Czech government, commentators say. The coalition Social Democrat, ANO and Christian Democrat parties as well as the opposition TOP 09 group all believe the country should adopt the single European currency by the year 2020. Czech president Miloš Zeman, meanwhile, said the euro could replace the crown even earlier.