Poland’s approach to monetary integration

According to the accession treaty of 2003, Poland is obliged to adopt the common currency as soon as the legal and economic criteria are fulfilled. But, since the very beginning of EU membership, Polish governments have demonstrated little determination in making credible steps in this direction, so the derogation status has turned into a long-term settlement. The closest chance appeared at the time of the financial and economic crisis over a decade ago. In October 2008 the then prime minister, Donald Tusk, declared during the Economic Forum in Krynica that Poland intended to join the monetary union in 2011 (Kobusova, 2008), but the goal slipped down the list of political priorities when the economic situation worsened as a result of the outbreak of the global financial crisis. The euro question was frozen after Tusk’s party, Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska: PO), lost power in 2015 in favour of

116 Sebastian Plociennik the United Right (Zjednoczona Prawica: ZP) alliance. The next governments were openly against quick adoption of the euro, and demonstrated this, for example, by liquidating the special office designed for preparations for euro adoption in the Ministry of Finance. Both prime ministers from the Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc: PiS), Beata Szydlo and Mateusz Morawiecki, have declared that the euro remains a long-term perspective and Poland should have a similar level of GDP per capita to the other members before it considers membership of the monetary union (Czerniak & Smolenska, 2019: 8-15).

This reluctance on the part of the political parties is intricately linked to public opinion polls. As Figure 6.1, on the expectations of Poles about the impact of euro area membership on the country’s situation, shows, a negative outlook has prevailed since 2011. It must be admitted, though, that since 2016 the mood has eased, and the difference between negative and positive answers to this question has fallen from 21 per cent to 7 per cent (European Commission, 2019a: 23). But, even if Polish society becomes more friendly towards accession to the euro area, there will be a long and bumpy process to finalise it. According to the Convergence Report published regularly by the European Commission, there are still institutional obstacles to fulfil the criteria of membership (European Commission, 2018: 91-93). They require amendments to the Polish constitution, which necessitates the building of a far-reaching political consensus (for a two-thirds majority) or the organising of a national referendum. Apart from that, Poland must join the ERM II (European Exchange Rate Mechanism II) for two years prior to accession - but this requires a political decision too. In addition, the rising public spending connected with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis can - if it translates into high

Do you think the introduction of the euro will be positive for your country? Answers in per cent

Figure 6.1 Do you think the introduction of the euro will be positive for your country? Answers in per cent

Source: European Commission (2019a: 23).

Poland’s reserved approach to the euro 117

and permanent general government deficits - become another hurdle in the way of full EMU membership.

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