Romania is aiming to adopt the European single currency in 2022, the country’s government has said.
The country’s Foreign Minister said Romania’s economy had already met the requirements to join the currency, but it was waiting five years to protect the incomes of pensioners.
Romania would be the first country to join the euro since Lithuania adopted the currency in 2015.
Nineteen of the EU’s 28 members currently use the currency, though Montenegro, which is not currently a member state, has also unilaterally adopted it.
“Already today we meet all the formal requirements, we could join the currency union even tomorrow,” Teodor Melescanu the Polish publication Rzeczpospolita.
“But we’re afraid that it will have a negative effect on the poorest, pensioners’ incomes.”
He added: “I think that we will adopt the euro in five years, in 2022.”
Mr Melescanu’s comments come after a run of good economic data from the eurozone, suggesting that the currency area is completing its recovery from the crisis that has dogged it since 2008.
The European Commission and European Central Bank’s latest assessment of the Romanian economy, published in June 2016, however, said that the country did not meet the criteria for joining the euro.
Romania was wracked by anti-corruption protests earlier this year (EPA)
If Britain were to leave the bloc and Romania were to adopt the euro, 20 of 27 countries in the EU would be using the euro, shifting the balance of power within the bloc significantly towards countries that use it.
Protections within the single market for countries that are not members of the eurozone are a significant matter of debate within the EU.
Under the terms of EU treaties, member states are bound to adopt the euro eventually, once their economies have met certain economic criteria.
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The United Kingdom and Denmark, however, both have officially negotiated opt-outs, and, in practice, there is currently no real compulsion for other abstainers – such as Sweden – to join the currency.
The Independent has contacted the European Commission for comment on this story.