Bulgaria Finance Minister rules out joining euro zone in January 2024

Bulgaria will miss its January 1 2024 target date for joining the euro zone, the country’s caretaker Finance Minister Rossitsa Velkova said on February 17.

Velkova said that Bulgaria would not submit a euro zone convergence report at the end of the month, as previously scheduled, which ruled out the country’s current accession date target.

She said that at the Eurogroup meeting of euro zone finance ministers earlier this week, Bulgaria’s preparations for joining the euro area were not discussed, despite the issue being on the preliminary agenda.

The reason given was that Bulgaria’s 48th National Assembly, dissolved last month, failed to pass three key bills required to bring its legislation in line with the requirements for joining the euro zone. Furthermore, Bulgaria did not meet the Maastricht criteria for joining the euro area with regard to inflation.

Velkova said that Bulgaria will be allowed to submit a convergence report once the new Parliament, formed after the April 2 snap election, passes those bills, as opposed to waiting until early 2024 to do so.

The bills in question were amendments to the Insurance Code, money-laundering legislation and amendments to the Commercial Code, specifically as regards insolvency.

The bills were tabled in the 48th National Assembly, but only passed at first reading. The caretaker Cabinet intends to table them again in the new Parliament, Velkova said.

If the bills are passed swiftly, alongside amendments to the Bulgarian National Bank Act, and Bulgaria submits its convergence report in mid-2023, the preliminary discussions with Eurogroup members indicated that the new target date for joining the euro zone would be no later than January 1 2025, Velkova said.

The issue of Bulgaria’s euro zone accession has become a contentious one in domestic politics in recent years, as a number of political parties have questioned the timeline of the country joining the euro area. Pro-Russian Vuzrazhdane is currently in the middle of a campaign to gather signatures for a referendum on adopting the euro.

(Photo: Pedro Moura Pinheiro/flickr.com)

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