SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will most likely apply to join the euro zone on July 14, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Thursday.
Bulgaria is pushing on with its bid to join while it holds the rotating EU presidency and enjoys the political support of the current European Commission.
As one of EU's poorest member states, Bulgaria is concerned that missing the momentum for deeper integration would leave it on the periphery as EU countries discuss a multi-speed Europe.
Borissov told reporters in Brussels he would present Bulgaria's bid to join the ERM-2 - the two-year obligatory waiting room for euro zone membership - to the leaders of the Eurogroup on Friday.
He said the finance minister would discuss the details of the bid with his counterparts in the Eurogroup two weeks later, on July 14. When asked if the Balkan country will file an application then, Borissov said: "Most probably yes."
"I am invited to a meeting of the leaders of the Eurogroup where I will present our letters and our candidacy to join the eurozone's waiting room, because we meet all the five criteria," he said on the sidelines of the European Union summit.
"And tomorrow I will ask why it is necessary to change the criteria," Borissov said in a reference to a recommendation from the European Commission and the European Central Bank that it enters the bloc's banking union before the ERM-2 mechanism.
Bulgaria meets the nominal criteria to adopt the euro, with its lev currency pegged to the euro, low inflation and healthy public finances.
But economic output per capita, just half the EU average, and widespread graft have cast a shadow over its ambitions.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Andrew Heavens)