President calls meeting at Lány to spur discussion on euro adoption

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

This Sunday, President Milos Zeman has called a meeting at Lany Chateau with the country’s prime minister, finance minister and central bank governor to discuss plans for the speedier adoption of the single European currency. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka revealed the news in an interview for commercial radio station Rádio Impuls on Tuesday. At the same time, he stressed, adoption of the euro was not something which would happen during this political cycle.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
It’s no secret that the head-of-state wants debate on euro adoption – and a possible date – to be pushed to the top of the political agenda. Not long ago he himself discussed 2018 as a deadline, which many see as an unrealistic at best. Among the sceptics is Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, one of those called to Sunday’s meeting and even the prime minister is not convinced: while euro adoption is the target for all three parties in the coalition – and while the ground has to be prepared well in advance – he made clear it was not the order of the day. Here is what Prime Minister Sobotka told private broadcaster Rádio Impuls:

“We are going to discuss with the president and his aides the possibilities for euro adoption. How much time the move will take and when it could be a possibility… There are differences of opinion among members of ANO as well as the Social Democrats and none of the coalition is against adoption of the currency. Where we differ is on the question of tempo… I am convinced that the government is taking steps to adopt the currency in a reasonable timeframe.”

The prime minister sidestepped a question about whether the debate put him and the president at odds with the finance minister, saying the Czech Republic was committed to adopting the euro and had been ever since it joined the European Union. He told the broadcaster it will happen. The question is for conditions at the time of adoption to be the most advantageous.

The prime minister did confirm that adoption of the currency would not take place under the current government. He also made clear the eurozone needed to tackle current problems such as Greece’s outstanding debt. If the president is pressing for “reasonable debate” the issue has also not taken off, at least for the time being, among the public: according to long-term polls the broader public is against the adoption of the currency at all: 87 percent were against in 2013 and a survey suggested that since then the number has dropped by just two percent, according to news website iDnes.