WARSAW Poland will not be able to join the euro for possibly another decade because the government lacks a sufficient majority to approve the changes needed to its constitution, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.
In an interview for Saturday's daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Tusk said he believed there would not be enough pro-euro deputies in parliament to back its adoption even in the chamber's next term.
This would mean that Warsaw would not initiate the process for at least six more years, effectively putting euro entry off until well into the 2020s. Poland next holds a parliamentary election in 2015.
"We will not enter the euro zone without changing the constitution. We do not have a majority for this today and, according to my intuition, we will not have such a majority in the next term either," Tusk said.
"If you want me to lose elections, then yes, persuade me to announce that I will do something that people fear ... Keep in mind that the euro zone remains in a deep renovation process."
Poland's constitution says that only the National Bank of Poland can issue the national currency, but once in the euro bloc, this role would be taken over by the European Central Bank.
To change the charter in Poland, a simple majority, which the government has, is not enough. Constitutional change requires a qualified two-thirds majority.
The main opposition party, the euro-sceptic conservative Law and Justice, has enough votes to bloc any such attempts. It is also leading in public opinion polls, with Tusk's ruling Civic Platform trailing.
In addition, Poland faces economic hurdles and so far does not meet many of the Maastricht Treaty requirements euro entry .
Tusk announced in 2008 that Warsaw would be joining the euro zone in 2012.
Two weeks later Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending the global economy into a deep downturn and forcing Warsaw to put its plans on hold.
Recent polls show that fewer than a third of Poles support abandoning the zloty in favour of the common currency.
(Reporting by Karolina Slowikowska; Editing by Alison Williams)