Polish leader says adopting euro is not the priority

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish government’s priority is not to adopt the common European currency, the euro, but to raise people’s earnings to Western European levels, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Mateusz Morawiecki was commenting in reaction to the opposition’s promise that it would adopt the euro if it won power in parliamentary elections in the fall.

Morawiecki told state Polskie Radio 1 that his government’s priority is to make earnings comparable with those in rich European countries. He said it would take five to 10 years to catch up with Italy, and then with France and richer countries.

Poland joined the European Union in 2004 and is working to make up for decades of inefficient communist management. Its economy is among the fastest growing in the EU, but it is still using the local currency, the zloty.

“Our main purpose is not for Poland to adopt the euro,” Morawiecki said, adding it would “not pay off.”

“To the contrary, we believe that the zloty ensures people’s prosperity very well, so our purpose is for the Poles to start earning like in Western Europe.”

He cited neighboring Slovakia and Lithuania as countries where prices of staple goods reportedly rose following the adoption of the euro and where border residents do their shopping in Poland, where prices are lower.

Poland’s ruling conservative party recently announced a new round of social benefits that critics say aim to win over voters in the European Parliament elections in May and in the fall general election.

Morawiecki said the generous social program is intended to help narrow the gap in living standards with the West.

In an appeal Tuesday to EU members for a stronger Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron said the euro currency is a source of strength, helping it “resist the crises of financial capitalism.”

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