SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A senior European Union official on Thursday dampened Bulgaria’s aspirations for a swift adoption of the euro currency as the Balkan country doesn’t meet all required entry criteria.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters before his meetings with Bulgarian officials that the country wouldn’t become a eurozone member before the beginning of 2025.
Bulgaria, which is the EU’s poorest member, hopes that the euro will boost the country’s economy and financial security, but a prolonged political crisis has changed the agenda.
Before a new election in April — the fifth in two years — the main political parties declared as a main priority to bring the country into the 20-member eurozone on Jan. 1, 2024.
Dombrovskis, however, set a different timeline. He stressed that the main stumbling block for Bulgaria is inflation, which is especially high since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
While Bulgaria complies in terms of public finances, long-term interest rates and stable exchange rates, it fails to comply with the inflation criterion by a significant margin, which makes it impossible to enter the eurozone at the beginning of 2024.
Bulgaria’s harmonized inflation climbed to 14.3% year-on-year at the end of 2022.
“Let’s hope that the delay will not be long, and that accession will be possible a year later,” he told Bulgarian National Television.
Dombrovskis also said that Bulgaria needs to make more efforts to combat corruption by adopting reforms to money laundering legislation.