PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babis, one of the country’s most popular politicians heading into elections next year, has said he does not favour swapping the crown for the euro.
“Certainly I am not a fan of entry to the euro zone,” he told the daily Hospodarske Noviny, according to a report on Friday.
“On Tuesday I was in Luxembourg for a meeting of (European Union) finance ministers where the big problems that the euro zone has were apparent.”
The Czech Republic is one of the east European countries that are one day due to adopt the common currency. However, the centre-left government has not set a target date, and does not expect to do so before its term ends late next year.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the newspaper, which ran a section on the future of the crown in its Friday edition, that switching to the euro was a question of timing.
“I am convinced the question of adoption ... is not whether we will accept it but how to time adoption well,” he said.
Babis’s ANO party is a junior member of the ruling coalition but scored a victory in regional elections this past weekend and leads Sobotka’s Social Democrats in opinion polls.
That could put Babis, a billionaire businessman who owns a large agriculture, food and media business, in a position to lead the country after the next election.
The 19-member euro zone is still feeling the effects of a debt crisis and struggling to get economic growth on track.
Babis said many of the euro zone countries did not keep to the club’s rules. He also said he was worried that the Czech Republic would have to participate in possible bailouts of other countries or banks. But he said adoption of the euro would bring advantages for some companies.
“(Firms) would not have to anticipate how the crown exchange rate will develop,” he said. “But the crown versus euro (exchange rate) is always an effective tool. And, going by the way I see the euro zone functioning, I am certainly not for adoption.”
Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Kevin Liffey