Incoming EU president Romania aims to join euro 'by 2024'

Bucharest (AFP) –


Romania hopes to adopt the euro "by 2024" and wants to use its forthcoming EU presidency to reduce tensions between the bloc's eastern and western members, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said Wednesday.

"Our aim is for Romania to adopt the euro by 2024," Dancila told parliament, less than three weeks before Romania takes up the EU's rotating president for the first time on 1 January.

Romania joined the EU in 2007 and had intially hoped to join the monetary union in 2019.

However, it recognised in 2015 that it would not meet the currency's convergence criteria in time, and since then had not set a new one.

Romania is the EU's second poorest country but has one of the bloc's highest GDP growth rates, standing at 6.9 percent in 2017.

Dancila said that Romania would try to use its time at the head of the bloc to help "remove the dividing lines and imbalances" within it.

"We will have to overcome attitudes along the lines of 'old members versus new members' or 'West against East'," she said.

Romania's presidency would aim at "ensuring equal opportunities and advantages for all" so that "there are no more first- and second-class citizens," she added.

Last month the European Commission adopted a highly critical report on the judicial reforms brought forward by Romania's left-leaning government.

According to Brussels, the measures risk undermining the independence of judges and prosecutors.

Along with neighbouring Bulgaria, since joining the EU Romania has been under special monitoring targeting the judicial system and the fight against corruption, where progress has been slow.

Dancila once again criticised this monitoring mechanism, which Bucharest has branded discriminatory.

"Romania wishes to enjoy respect and equal rights within the Union," she said.