SOFIA, March 1 Bulgaria's interim Prime Minister
Ognyan Gerdzhikov said on Wednesday his government wanted to
apply formally to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM-2),
commonly known as the euro "waiting room", before it hands over
The Balkan country joined the European Union in 2007, and
while it has low inflation and stable public finances its entry
into the euro zone has been stymied by widespread corruption and
Bulgarians go to the polls in a snap election on March 26
and Gerdzhikov acknowledged a lot of work would be needed if his
administration was to succeed.
"This is a political issue and we have to consult with EU
members," Gerdzhikov told reporters after a government meeting.
"There is a lot of work to be done, there are people working on
it. I will be happy if we push it through, but I cannot give any
guarantees for the time being."
Gerdzhikov's caretaker government will remain in office
until a new administration is installed. But with Bulgaria's two
main political parties, the centre-right GERB and leftist
Socialists, running neck-and-neck in opinion polls, forming a
working government may be difficult, analysts say.
There is no deadline for Bulgaria to join the euro and
financial analysts and economists are divided over whether the
Balkan state should rush into the two-year ERM-2 exchange rate
Supporters say doing so would help Bulgaria's integration
into the EU and bring it in from the periphery, as discussion
about a two-speed Europe intensifies following Britain's
decision to leave the bloc.
Critics argue that a formal application from an unelected
government and without the proper support from major euro zone
countries and the European Central Bank would be doomed to fail.
Bulgaria meets the formal criteria to adopt the euro - it
has low inflation, low interest rates as well as stable public
finances, but diplomats say it needs to crack down on corruption
before adopting the single currency.
Bulgaria, the EU's poorest member state, already pegs its
lev currency to the euro.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Richard Lough)