Prague lagging behind with euro preparations says EU, but do Czechs want currency?

Photo: European Commission

The European Union recently gave the green light for Slovenia to adopt the common European currency the euro in 2007. Slovenia therefore becomes the first of the ten states who joined the EU in 2004 to also join the eurozone. But when will the Czech Republic be ready for adoption? And in any case how enthusiastic are Czechs about the euro?

Photo: European Commission
A new report by the European Commission says the Czech Republic has been slow to get off the blocks when it comes to preparing to adopt the euro. It says if other new EU members meet their targets to join the eurozone, the Czech Republic could well be left behind.

The official target date for adoption was 2009, until last November when the government set a revised target of January 1, 2010. But some analysts say even 2010 is rather optimistic.

And a poll by the European Commission suggests one fifth of Czechs do not believe they will have euros in their pockets in three and a half years' time.

On the street earlier, this Prague citizen gave us his opinion.

"I am positive about the euro being used in the Czech Republic but I don't think it is necessary to introduce it very quickly. I don't think the year 2010 is very realistic. And the second thing is there are Maastricht Criteria, but we should have our own criteria."

But it seems those who favour adoption would appear to be in the minority - the new European Commission report finds more than fifty percent of Czechs would not welcome the currency.

That said, it's not all doom and gloom. Visitors can, of course, already spend the currency in many places, especially Prague, where it is not unusual to see menus with prices also given in euros.

But the currency is also accepted in many border areas, such as Hradek nad Nisou, which is in the triangle where the Czech Republic meets Poland and Germany. Hradek has even introduced special parking metres. Martin Puta is the local mayor.

Photo: European Commission
"A great number of our visitors are from Germany and Poland so we decided to bring in parking metres that take euros as well as Czech crowns. You can also spend euros in all shops, at petrol stations. Local shopkeepers have simply adapted to the fact that for many Germans carrying crowns is a problem."

Getting back to joining the eurozone, the technical aspects are being discussed on Wednesday at a seminar hosted by the Finance Ministry. But earlier this week the Czech National Bank warned that the soaring state budget could preclude adoption, if it results in failure to meet the Maastricht criteria.

So will the Czechs adopt the euro in three and a half years' time? I wouldn't bet too many crowns on it.