Polish euro zone entry blocked for years: PM

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland will not be able to join the euro zone for years because of a parliamentary impasse that could last through 2019, Prime Minister Donald Tusk indicated in an interview published on Saturday.

"We will not enter the euro zone without changing the constitution. We do not have that kind of majority today and my intuition tells me we will not have it in the next term either," Mr Tusk told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Because opposition conservatives reject the European single currency, the government lacks the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to push through necessary constitutional changes.

With Poland's next parliamentary election scheduled for 2015 and terms lasting four years, the euro zone entry process may remain on hold until at least 2019, Mr Tusk's statement indicated.

The latest opinion polls show Mr Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform party trailing by a few percentage points behind the eurosceptic PiS opposition party.

The nation of 38 million people is obliged to join the euro zone under the terms of its 2004 EU entry agreement, but there is no accession deadline.

Mr Tusk said in 2008 that his government aimed to join in 2011, but Warsaw has since adopted a wait-and-see approach to swapping its zloty for the euro.

"In 2008 I definitely overdid it on the optimism," Mr Tusk said in the Saturday interview.

"The mitigating circumstance is that two weeks later Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and the crisis erupted." Central Europe's largest economy, Poland has maintained growth each year since it shed communism two decades ago.

It is the only EU member to have done so through the 2007-2009 financial meltdown and the ongoing euro zone crisis, thanks in part to the zloty easing in value against the euro.

Opinion polls show most Poles are opposed to adopting the euro, and Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski said in April that there was "no big rush on eurozone entry".

In March Mr Tusk floated the idea of a public vote on the unpopular euro as a solution to the parliamentary impasse, but the referendum was not mentioned in the interview with Gazeta Wyborcza.

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