Austria’s government on Thursday rejected an European Union proposal to bring more member states into the eurozone, warning that such a move could lead to fresh economic crises like the one seen in Greece.
Chancellor Christian Kern (photo), a Social Democrat, and Conservative Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, both expressed reticence to back the euro expansion proposed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the European Union address the previous day, Efe news reported.
Kern, who is to run against Kurz in the parliamentary elections in October, told Austrian ORF radio that before adopting the euro, countries must first meet the criteria of the Maastricht agreement, tackle inflation, debt, deficit and pursue measures against tax evasion.
Until such criteria were met, expanding the euro area would only lead to financial problems, Kern said, before referring to the example of Greece and its struggle to recover from bankruptcy and the 2008 economic crisis.
“The euro and the Schengen zone is open for everybody, but only for those that fulfil the criteria… We must avoid another situation like the one in Greece,” Kurz said.
In hir turn, the Dutch PM Mark Rutte stated he opposes Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schenger zone, saying that Juncker’s vision is ‘romantic’. Rutte said his country opposes such a development now, adding there are too many concerns about border control and corruption.
The German officials are also reluctant about Romania and Bulgaria. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the two countries have a long way to go and that a decision is not to be made today.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said that in order to join the eurozone the countries have to meet the set criteria.
On Wednesday, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, on the occasion of the annual speech on the state of the Union, said the EU should consider bringing Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area, plus Croatia.
“It is high time to bring Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area. Croatia too deserves full membership in the Schengen area as soon as all criteria are met. The EU must offer credible membership prospects to Western Balkans,” Juncker said.
On the other hand, EC President Juncker proposed to have a European summit in Sibiu, right after the Brexit is completed, i.e. on March 30, 2019, one day after the deadline to complete the Brexit.