May 8, 2019 / 1:56 PM / 2 months ago

Poland needs debate on euro before joining - opposition leader

WARSAW, May 8 (Reuters) - Poland needs to convince its voters of the benefits of the euro before joining it, the leader of the main opposition grouping said, dismissing the ruling party’s suggestion that he supports the swift adoption of the common currency.

Adopting the euro has become a hot topic in campaigning for the May 26 European Parliament elections in Poland. The ruling eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) says joining the euro would make Poles poorer by pushing up prices, a claim that supporters of the common currency deny.

Poland will also hold national elections in late 2019, when Grzegorz Schetyna’s centrist, pro-EU Civic Platform (PO) hopes to unseat PiS and form a new government.

“We in Poland need time to conduct an open debate on the euro,” Schetyna told Reuters in an interview in which he spoke also of his party’s hopes for the EU elections.

“If we have a parliamentary majority to do it (adopt the euro), we will start talks about it, but simultaneously there has to be a debate, we need to convince people,” he said.

A recent opinion poll, conducted by Instytut Badania Spraw Publicznych for private Radio Zet, showed 58 percent of Poles prefer to keep the zloty currency.

Under EU law, Poland is required to adopt the euro as its currency but the government is free to decide when it does so. Poland is by far the largest of the former communist countries to join the EU since 2004.

“I know how important it is to introduce the euro, but I would like 51 percent of Poles to know how important it is and how it can help us,” Schetyna said.

Last year a group of prominent Polish economists urged the country to start preparations in 2019 to adopt the euro, saying it would boost economic growth. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak and Marcin Goclowski Editing by Gareth Jones)

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