Prague doesn't need euro coordinator: Minister

The leader of ANO party Andrej Babis answers questions from the media after the regional elections in Prague, Czech Republic,on Oct 8, 2016.
The leader of ANO party Andrej Babis answers questions from the media after the regional elections in Prague, Czech Republic,on Oct 8, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

PRAGUE (AFP) - The Czech Republic doesn't need a euro coordinator as it isn't preparing to join the eurozone, Finance Minister Andrej Babis said Friday (Jan 13).

The economist Oldrich Dedek who has served as "Mr Euro" at the Czech finance ministry for the past 11 years will leave next month to join the board of the central bank, forcing the nation to once again confront its ambivalent attitude towards the EU and the single European currency.

"We don't need any coordinator, we are not preparing to join the euro," Babis, who is also deputy prime minister, told the Lidove Noviny daily.

He said the post should be cut definitively after elections later this year.

"We'll leave it to the next government," said Babis, who is in pole position to become the next prime minister as his centrist ANO movement is leading the polls for the October legislative elections.

The Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004, and as part of its accession took on the obligation to eventually adopt the euro after meeting economic criteria like a small budget deficit, low inflation, and low interest rates.

However, much like in fellow Central European nations Hungary and Poland, there has been little enthusiasm for, and progress towards, adopting the euro in the Czech Republic.

A number of Czech leaders, in particular former president Vaclav Klaus who served between 2003 and 2013, have been outspoken eurosceptics and the nation of 10.5 million is sharply divided.

A Eurobarometer survey conducted for the EU in November found that more Czechs had a negative than a positive opinion of the EU, by 32 to 28 percent.