Ljubliana is doing well but the Eurozone’s monetary authorities say that, like all the frontrunner candidates to join the single currency club, the Slovenians will be held strictly to the criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty. The countries in the queue were under scrutiny at a meeting in Vienna of the group’s 12 finance ministers.
Karl-Heinz Grasser of current EU president Austria sounded upbeat, saying that, overall, 2006 was already looking economically brighter than last year.
Grasser said as far as the “criteria for joining the monetary Union” were concerned, “the Slovenian economy is running well; We are waiting for the European Commission and Central Bank’s report, and if all criteria are met, then Slovenia will be the first country able to join — on the 1st of January, 2007.”
The report Grasser referred to comes out on May 16th.
Debt, deficit, currency stability, interest rate… Lithuania is also on track for all the criteria except inflation, for which it is over the tolerance level by one tenth of one percent. Established euro members have repeatedly broken the stability and growth pact rules which aim to keep the euro firm.
But current eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker warned against following their example.
“We think the conditions to join should be interpreted strictly, in the way we have always done, since the beginning. It has not escaped our notice there are specific questions of difficulty surrounding inflation, but tomorrow other criteria may have equal importance.”
The European Central Bank and Commission said much the same. The guardians of the euro want to avoid any leniency towards potential new members.