Wednesday, June 08, 2011

When will you adopt the euro?

North Americans don't know much about Poland in general. They do know Poland joined the European Union. But they all think Poland already has the euro. After all, it's the common currency of "Europe" and Poland's in Europe, isn't it? What, they don't have it? When will they adopt the euro?

I heard an anecdote earlier today about a cab driver whose daughter is working in London, which is not, as you know, unusual. Apparently, the daughter says she won't return to Poland until it has the euro.

It's as if the euro is this magic talisman of "normal." Or a sign "Poland has arrived." That it has left behind its developing economy ways and its Communist past and joined the Western European club, that it has transformed, like some slug become butterfly. I know of a few European Commission and European Central Bank officials who surely dream it thus.

Instead, the EC and ECB have their Greek tragedy, which is one main reason why the prospect of Poland's euro adoption is receding, not nearing. It's hard to even remember what Prime Ministry Donald Tusk was going on about when in September 2008 he shocked everyone -- including those in his own government -- by saying Poland would adopt the euro in 2011. That didn't happen, clearly.

National Bank of Poland Governor Marek Belka said on Monday that "the euro is for the brave," certainly meaning a fast changeover won't happen. Polls also show Poles are way less enthusiastic as well. Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski has even not excluded the fact the euro won't become legal tender in Poland till nearly 2020.

Ironically, this is about the earliest date mentioned by Law and Justice (PiS) leader and Poland's chief euro-sceptic, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, as desirable for euro take-up. On the prompting of advisers, Kaczynski has said Polish wages should be at European averages before the zloty is jettisoned. He could actually be right this time.


  1. The Polish Zloty is actually a pretty good investment right now. Something that taxi driver's daughter, earning GBP, wasn't taught in school no doubt. She's better off waiting tables or driving a lorry - here or there anyhow. So much I can say for the Polish schools from experience.

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski may not be so right as he is litigious unfortunately. He's a real pantser with only half the brains of the ferret. So much I can say about PiS from experience.

  2. I sort of see Jaroslaw and his euro belief as a prototypically Forrest Gumpian moment. Or his xenophobia and desire to be "patriotic" happened to coincide with what is economically sensible, especially these days. As Marek Belka recently said, Poland would be mad to adopt the euro anytime soon.

  3. "Stupid is as stupid does don't take the PiS."