Romania joining euro in 2019 'no longer feasible': central bank

Mugur Isarescu, the Governor of the Romanian Central Bank, pictured on October 13, 2008 (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)
Mugur Isarescu, the Governor of the Romanian Central Bank, pictured on October 13, 2008 (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

Bucharest (AFP) - Romania's plan to join the eurozone in 2019 is "no longer feasible," said central bank governor Mugur Isarescu, describing the country as not ready to undertake the required steps in time.

"The 2019 objective to adopt the euro is no longer feasible... no longer technically possible even if we'd still politically like to do so," Isarescu said during a press conference.

"Before setting any new (adoption) date, we must establish a road map that all parties will respect, including the opposition."

In order for Romania to enter the eurozone, Isarescu said, it must first join Europe's Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERM II) that modulates euro exchange levels with non-member currencies.

But to join the euro by 2019, Romania must enter the ERM II at latest by 2016, and "preparations to that end are complicated", Isarescu said.

Romania is one of the European Union's poorest members, but has repeatedly expressed its desire to join the common currency by 2019.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in December that Romania had achieved the five main eurozone admission criteria, including a budget deficit under three percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and total state debt of less than 60 percent of GDP.

Ponta nevertheless noted that "in terms of real criteria, we are not ready to face competition within the eurozone," saying Romania must urgently improve both the environment for investment and the country's infrastructure.

Though average monthly salary in Romania is barely 540 euros ($602), Romanians have become more reticent about adopting the single currency since witnessing the escalation of the Greek crisis.

Central European countries that have joined the euro thus far include Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.